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Saskatchewan government credits P3s for school savings

SASKATOON – The Government of Saskatchewan is touting a third-party report stating the province saved $100 million by using public-private partnerships (P3s) to build and operate 18 new schools. Consulting firm KPMG compared the P3 method to a “traditional” model.

The province’s joint-use schools project reportedly requires a $635 million investment, compared to $735 million using a traditional approach, the KPMG report found.

The P3 method includes the design, construction, financing and maintenance for the schools over the next 30 years. The schools will still be publicly-owned, stressed SaskBuilds Minister Gordon Wyant.

“Quite simply, if they’re not being maintained in accordance with the contract, [the contractors] won’t get paid,” said Wyant.
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Construction will be completed six to nine years faster, according to the Saskatchewan Party.

Students are scheduled to be in classrooms in September 2017.

READ MORE: Expansion complete at Saskatoon’s largest Catholic high school

Six schools will be situated in Saskatoon’s Evergreen, Hampton Village, Rosewood and Stonebridge neighbourhoods, as well as the cities of Martensville and Warman.

Regina’s three new schools will be located in the Harbour Landing, Greens on Gardiner and Skywood neighbourhoods.

Saskatchewan NDP deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon called the province’s P3 plan “utter nonsense.”

“This is a government that’s choosing a complex, convoluted approach to building the schools we need,” Wortherspoon said.

The Sask Party’s costing includes $150 million in retained risks, a figure an NDP news release calls “unjustified” and “largely made up” to make P3s look more appealing.

While he said he hadn’t looked at the report, Ray Morrision, board chair of Saskatoon Public Schools, said the reality of the situation will be revealed once the schools open.

“It will be a breath of fresh air and will cause some relief on the pressure on classroom sizes and enrolment in those neighbourhoods, in particular, that have many, many kids right now,” Morrison said.

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