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City of Edmonton staff are advising council to scrap plans for a P3 and keep a new recreation centre public.

City staff made an official pro-public recommendation today, after word began leaking out that the P3 numbers didn’t add up. Council still has to take a final vote on the issue.

CUPE opposed the plan from the start, calling for the city to keep the much-needed rec centre in public hands. Other community groups, including Public Interest Alberta, also campaigned against the scheme.

CUPE welcomed news that the P3 could soon be off the table.

This is great news for our members and all Edmontonians,” said CUPE 30 President Dennis Mol. “No-one benefits from a P3 except the big businesses involved.”

In a press release announcing its recommendation that the facility would proceed as a “construction management” project, the city administration said it couldn’t reach an acceptable deal with the private sector. Construction management is the way much of Canada’s infrastructure was built – with the private sector designing and building facilities that are publicly financed, operated and managed.

A city backgrounder highlights the pitfalls of building the Southwest Community Recreation Centre as a P3. A P3 gave the city no protection against rising costs and would have delayed construction until the fall - at a cost of $2 million per month.

The P3 model was only viable if it included a rink with four ice pads, forcing the city to cut into the budget for recreation centre facilities. The city said it was “unwilling to compromise on those amenities.”

While the city says it will continue to consider P3s for future projects, it’s yet another example of the higher costs, delays and compromised services that come with this form of privatization.

CUPE has extensive background on why P3s don’t work for recreation facilities.