Regina will be using a public-private partnership (P3) model, but Mayor Deb Higgins doesn’t see it happening in Moose Jaw.
© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Mayor Deb Higgins
“In any of the information I’ve seen, they kind of put a benchmark of about $50 million project or larger before they’re worthwhile doing or you’re able to do them as a P3,” said Higgins. “I don’t believe there’s anything that we have on the go right now or that we’re looking at in the next few years that would put us anywhere close to that kind of a dollar value.
“So yeah, I don’t see it as a real viable option for the City of Moose Jaw and the projects that we do.”
The City of Regina held a referendum on funding to build the city’s new wastewater treatment plant on Wednesday. The Regina Leader-Post reported out of 49,013 total votes, 27,988 people or 57 per cent voted in favour of using a public-private partnership (P3) as opposed to the 21,025 votes for using the more traditional design-bid-build model.
Mayor Michael Fougere of Regina spearheaded people voting for the P3 option. He said in a Leader-Post article the option would save taxpayers money. The city will receive $58.5 million in federal funding for the project that the city will own and a private company will build, design, operate and maintain it.
Jim Holmes of Regina Water Watch spearheaded the opposing side. He told the Leader-Post that the P3 option will end up costing more because the “financing rates for this project are much higher for a private corporation and … They are going to want to take a profit out of this service.”
Higgins said while there might not be “direct implications” for Moose Jaw, it is still interesting to watch how the referendums turn out.
“As someone who believes in the democratic process that we have it’s always interesting when there is a referendum held just to see what kind of turnout there was and what the final result is,” said Higgins.
“I think the turnout was actually fairly strong from what some people may have expected there to happen. So it’s always good to see a good turnout.”
She added “very few” projects for Moose Jaw would reach the $50 million benchmark, if that is accurate.
However, the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant needs to have some upgrades. The plant is co-owned and financed by Moose Jaw and Regina at 27.35 per cent and 72.65 per cent respectively.
In mid-October Moose Jaw city council will discuss a proposed motion to try and renegotiate the funding arrangement so it is proportionate to water usage and population of the two cities.
Higgins said the Regina’s P3 decision might affect the water treatment plant, but she didn’t know for sure yet.
“We’ll just have to wait and see how Regina plans on doing that and if they’ll take the same kind of view going towards the water treatment plant, not just the wastewater plant,” said Higgins. “When the final assessment is done on what exactly needs to happen at the water treatment plant, it’ll depend on what the dollar value is and what kind of resources are available at the time.”
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.