June 18, 2014 3:37 pm

Opposition wants Sask. to follow Alberta and scrap plan for P3 schools

Trent Wotherspoon, the Saskatchewan NDP's education critic, argues using a P3 model to build schools costs more and can take longer to get shovels in the ground.

Liam Richards / The Canadian Press

REGINA – The Opposition NDP says the Saskatchewan government should follow Alberta’s lead and scrap plans to build nine joint-use schools through public-private partnerships.

The Alberta government has said it would cost $14 million more to build 19 schools through a P3 arrangement and has abandoned the idea.

It says the right choice for students, parents and taxpayers is to use traditional financing.

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Trent Wotherspoon, the Saskatchewan NDP’s education critic, argues using a P3 model to build schools costs more and can take longer to get shovels in the ground.

“What we’re calling on this government to do is see the light of day, to learn from Alberta, to learn from Nova Scotia that wasted a whole bunch of money and to save tax payers money and stop wasting time…and build the schools that we need for this province and do so in the traditional way,” he said.

The Saskatchewan government says the province is still interested in a public-private partnership and points out that Alberta saved money on its first batch of P3 schools.

The CEO of the crown corporation, Sask Builds added that Alberta saved money in the past when there were multiple bidders on projects. Rupen Pandya said he expects Saskatchewan to attract multiple bidders because the projects here are different than in Alberta.

“The last bundle of schools, the fourth in Alberta, is geographically dispersed. There’s a mix of high schools and elementary schools. The Saskatchewan schools are all concentrated, essentially in urban centres; we have schools in Martensville and Warman which are just outside of Saskatoon, but from a market perspective, they’re essentially urban. They’re all elementary schools,” Pandya said.

Pandya also explained that Saskatchewan will have an independent report done for each P3 to look at value for money.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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