Province rejects P3 approach for building 19 new schools
Public-private partnership would cost $14 million more
The Alberta government has decided against using a public-private partnership to build 19 new schools after learning it would cost more money.
While the decision will save the government $14-million, Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale said it will now take longer for some of the schools to be built.
The government received a bid for $571 million for one company to build the schools under a P3 arrangement. An analysis determined that the traditional bidding process would cost $557 million -- 2 per cent less.
Drysdale announced the government rejected the P3 bid Tuesday, saying the higher price is connected to the province’s hot economy.
"In a time where the construction industry is heated, they're not going to go after the small margin bids. They're going for the bigger margins."
Two public schools in Edmonton — kindergarten to Grade 9 schools in both Heritage Valley and Terwillegar Heights — are among the 19 schools.
“I can understand why they’d make that decision,” said Sarah Hoffman, chair of the Edmonton Public School board. “I can also understand why it would be great to have those schools built yesterday, because we need them now.”
Former premier Alison Redford first promised to build 50 new schools and renovate 70 more using P3 funds during the election in 2012.
The NDP criticized the Tories for refusing to abandon a failed policy.
“Alberta kids are going to be stuck in overcrowded classes and spending more time on the bus because this government couldn’t back away from a bad idea,” said MLA Rachel Notley.
Despite this setback, Drysdale says the government isn't giving up on the P3 approach, saying it works in the "right instances."
The schools should be built by 2017 but Drysdale expects some of the schools will be finished a year earlier.