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Some key Calgary players have added their voices to the growing chorus opposing plans for P3 schools in Alberta. Calgary’s Catholic bishop and Catholic school district have both given the scheme a failing grade.

In an editorial in the Calgary Herald, Bishop Fred Henry said Calgarians should be wary of P3s. “The delivery of education and the provision of educational facilities are solid investments in our future, not simply expenses to be trimmed,” he wrote, pointing to evidence P3s cost more. He worries developer priorities – not student needs – could decide where new schools get built. He pointed out Alberta is the richest province in the country, and called on the government to “set aside its ideological assumption” about P3s. The bishop was an outspoken opponent of contracting out when Calgary Catholic school custodians, members of CUPE 520, went on strike in 1998 to keep custodial work in house.

The board’s superintendent and trustees have also spoken out. They’re worried P3 schools would create a two-tier system for building schools, would put other needs ahead of learning and education. The board raised serious questions about quality, maintenance and after-hours access for community groups. Schools are just one area being primed for P3s by the Alberta government as part of an across-the-board push for P3 infrastructure in the province.