Re: P3 community 'unique in Canada', Edmonton Journal, p. A3, 25 June

    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.

    Paul Moist
    National President
    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

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