P3 progress report: Momentum building for water and wastewater partnerships

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Recent months have seen several encouraging developments on the water and wastewater front: Saint John, New Brunswick, has decided to seek a private partner to design, build, and finance a new water treatment plant and to operate and maintain it for 30 years; Regina, Saskatchewan, is planning to use a 30-year public-private partnership (P3) to upgrade its aging sewage treatment plant; a federal standing committee has released a report on the effectiveness of P3s in the delivery of public infrastructure; and PPP Canada has released a study on the suitability of P3s for water and wastewater projects. Continue reading

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Corrupt water

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Last week’s boil-water advisory in Montreal called attention to a system plagued by under-investment, poor repair, and shaky management. Would privatization – under strict regulation – create a more effective and efficient system? Continue reading

Federal and provincial taxpayers to subsidize sewage treatment in Victoria

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The governments of Canada and BC have announced that they will foot almost two-thirds of the bill for a new sewage treatment system for Victoria. Such subsidies are inequitable, inefficient, and unnecessary. Continue reading

Debunking the myth of public-sector accountability

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Those who advocate purely public water and sewage utilities warn that private financing and operation impede transparency, diminish accountability, and undermine government regulation. They have it backwards: Public utilities have repeatedly shown themselves to be un-transparent and un-accountable. Continue reading

Transparency in P3s: disclosure v. confidentiality

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Last week, a legislative committee considering Manitoba’s Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act heard arguments on both the importance of public access to information and the need to protect industry’s confidential information. Continue reading

Mandating transparency … or killing P3s?

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In May, the Manitoba government introduced The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. Ostensibly intended to ensure transparency, it may instead hamstring municipalities that want to pursue public-private partnerships. Continue reading

Privatizing water services

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CBC Radio’s “The Current” turns its attention to privatizing water and sewage services, engaging Environment Probe’s Elizabeth Brubaker and several others in a lively discussion about what greater private-sector involvement could mean for Canada. Continue reading

Support for public-private partnerships grows

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According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Canadians support public-private partnerships (P3s) for water treatment and sewage facilities. These numbers are up considerably from last year. Continue reading

The Privatization of City Services

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BNN’s “Headline” features a discussion of the privatization of city services, including water and sewage. Environment Probe’s Elizabeth Brubaker, CUPE’s Paul Moist, and Ontario Waste Management Association’s Rob Cook debate the merits of privatization. Continue reading

Technical input lacking on tenders: OSWCA

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In this article, the Daily Commercial News explores better ways of financing and carrying out water and sewage system work. It stresses the importance of full-cost pricing and competitive, results-oriented bidding processes that encourage ingenuity. The article extensively cites Elizabeth Brubaker’s report, A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services. Continue reading

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services

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In this Commentary, published by the C.D. Howe Institute, Elizabeth Brubaker writes that drinking water and sewage systems across Canada threaten public health and the environment. Municipalities lack the resources to correct utility failings. Private water and wastewater services providers are well positioned to help municipalities with needed capital and expertise. Engaged through competitive contracting and governed by performance-based contracts, private providers have incentives to find efficiencies and perform well. Continue reading