Brian Pallister says public-private partnerships could be used in roads

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is raising the possibility of building provincial roads in partnership with the private sector. Pallister told the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce that the so-called P-3 model is a great option for roads — better than for other projects such as schools. Pallister later told reporters he is not considering toll highways, like in some other provinces, but thinks more private-sector involvement could lead to better value. The premier said his government is continuing to keep a lid on spending as it works to balance the budget by 2024. And with lower-than-expected deficit numbers lately, Pallister says he is hoping the province will see an upgrade in its credit rating from international bond rating agencies within two years. The Progressive Conservative government recently looked at using a P-3 model for a handful of schools, but in the end opted to build them the traditional way to save time. “Schools would have meant a delay, and that’s the major factor,” Pallister said after his speech Tuesday. “I don’t think we have any (P-3 roads) in the mill right now that we’re even debating. But I just wouldn’t want it said that we were ruling out the possibility of them when eight other provinces have used P-3s.” The structure of P-3 road deals varies across the country. Some, like Highway 407 near Toronto, see motorists pay a toll to the private company that operates the route. Others see governments pay for the work but give private companies control over design, building and maintenance for decades. Pallister said he would look at non-toll examples such the Chief Peguis Trail extension in Winnipeg, which was built under a 30-year financing deal with a private firm. Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, said P-3 models can end up costing the public more in the long run and the financing can be complex and hard to judge. “If they’re not good for schools … what makes him think roads will be a better avenue for them?” Rebeck said. “Clarity is something that’s often lacking and Manitobans deserve to know what (the government) means by that.”       Source: thestarphoenix