VICTORIA - Premier Gordon Campbell has dealt BC municipalities a harsh ideological broadside with today’s announcement that Partnerships BC now has the authority to decide whether major public infrastructure projects become public-private partnerships (P3s), says the BC division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Campbell, in his closing day address at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention, said the province would kick in one third of the costs for sewage treatment in the Capital Regional District. But he added that the funding is conditional on Partnerships BC - the organization set up by the BC Liberal government to promote and advance P3s - getting to decide whether the project becomes a P3.
The premier said that the new baseline for public infrastructure in B.C. would be P3s, and that any project costing more than $20 million would henceforth be handled by Partnerships BC.
CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock, responding to Campbell’s speech, said that the Province has effectively allowed a discredited organization to become the enforcer of P3s for municipalities.
“The premier has now said to municipalities, in effect, ‘you no longer get to decide how your infrastructures are built - Partnerships BC will decide for you’, “ said Hancock.
“Well, it might be a great day for bankers and investors, but it’s a lousy day for municipalities who have just lost even more of their already dwindling autonomy.”
Hancock said that Partnerships BC is riddled with conflict of interest, making the organization unfit to become the sole arbiter of public infrastructure development in this province.
“This is the organization, remember, that writes the case for P3s, provides advice to the province on P3s, evaluates its own work, provides zero accountability, and has a bonus structure that puts money into their pockets every time a P3 is approved.”Campbell’s speech />backgrounder
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CUPE BC secretary-treasurer