OTTAWA, June 27 /CNW Telbec/ -
The Alberta government's plan to privatize a Fort McMurray subdivision
through a public private 'partnership' capitalizes on a community in
crisis to promote a flawed solution.
The problem is well-known. Unchecked growth - fueled by the ever-
expanding oil sands industry - has created a community flailing through
exponential growth. Public planning, investment, and oversight are needed
to bring the situation back under control. A balance must be struck that
meets the socio-economic needs of the community as a whole, protects the
environment, and champions transparency and accountability.
Grafting a privatized P3 suburb onto an already problematic situation
will create something straight out of a mad scientist's lab. Will a
corporate-built and corporate-run FrankenCity operate beyond the reach of
the democratically-elected city council? Issues of accountability and
community control top the long list of problems this P3 will create.
What's more, the plan lacks any fiscal sense. Private financing will
drive up project costs, as will the multitude of other expenses
associated with the tendering, bidding, and oversight of a P3 project.
Meanwhile, the province is flush with ample surplus to publicly finance
the infrastructure and services so desperately needed and the
municipality can borrow more cheaply than the private sector. Public
financing would keep costs in check while eliminating some altogether.
Never mind that a wholly public approach would allow Fort McMurray more
control over its own future.
The wishes of privatization proponents like the Fraser Institute - which
last year issued a report urging the Regional Municipality of Wood
Buffalo to privatize new infrastructure developments - appear to be
coming true. The report's authors suggest P3s offer an answer to the
infrastructure shortages that bottleneck further expansion in the oil
sands industry. In whose interests could they be arguing? Squint through
the lofty proposals and it's obvious the price will be too high. In
addition to the social and economic problems P3s create, unchecked growth
will have serious environmental consequences. Just ask those living
downstream from oil sands production.
This is a plan that must be stopped before a shovel hits the ground.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
For further information:
For further information: Pam Kapoor, Media Relations Officer, Canadian
Union of Public Employees, (613) 237-1590 x 268, (613) 853-8089