It was standing room only at a press conference in Penticton, B.C., on November 28, when CUPE Anti-Privatization Coordinator Robin Roff released the report A White Elephant in Wine Country. The report examines the privatization of the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) and the impact of this public-private partnership (P3) on the community.
“Evidence shows that residents of Penticton are paying a very high price for the City’s decision to enter into a 20-year public-private partnership,” said Roff.
The report looks at the deal, costs, financing and the problems and broken promises four years later.
Joining Roff at the press conference was Professor John Loxley from the University of Manitoba. Loxley was in Penticton as part of a book tour promoting his latest book Public Service/Private Profits that examines the evolution of P3s and an exhaustive number of case studies across Canada.
“I’ve been looking at P3s since 1990,” Loxley told the crowd. “And you have to be very, very careful.” Loxley suggested that the best way for municipalities to protect their interests was not to get involved with private public partnerships in the first place.
The audience had the opportunity to ask questions, many of which focused on what could be done in Penticton about the SOEC.