The role of the private sector in providing public services was debated at a summit in Regina on Monday.

It is a topic of current interest in the city because of a recent decision by Regina to have a private company operate a new waste water treatment facility.

Mark Romoff, who is with group that favours private participation in public works, notes they are a cost-effective way to deliver services.

"You'll find that the actual overall cost — over the life of the contract — is less than it would have been had that infrastructure been developed through the more traditional methods," he said.

On the other side of the issue, critics of private partnerships in public works say they are a more expensive way to operate.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees say private investment in Regina's waste water plant will cost taxpayers millions of extra dollars.

One of the reasons is that the cost of borrowing is higher for the private sector.

"It's got to be paid for," Tom Graham, a CUPE leader, said Monday. "And this concept that somehow there's a magic trick that the private sector gets involved and everything's better, it just doesn't wash in our opinion."

With files from CBC's Dean Gutheil