Request for Qualifications issued to redevelop Ontario Highway Service Centres



    Renewed facilities will contribute to economic prosperity

    TORONTO, Aug. 28 /CNW/ - The Ministry of Transportation and
Infrastructure Ontario released today a request for qualifications (RFQ) to
shortlist teams to design, build, finance, maintain and operate Highway
Service Centres on Highways 400 and 401.
    "Ontario's highway service centres are important to travelers as they
provide a safe place to rest, eat, and re-fuel," said Transportation Minister
Donna Cansfield. "We want to provide the public with modern service centres
that provide better and innovative services."
    There are 23 highway service centres located in Southern Ontario,
currently leased and operated by one of three fuel companies: Shell, Imperial
Oil or Petro Canada. The majority of the long-term leases are about to expire.
The province is looking for a single operator who will renew the sites and
offer quality services to the traveling public.
    "Ontario's population and our local tourism industry are growing --
modern, efficient service centres will help to showcase Ontario as a prime
destination," said David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal.
"The government is committed to updating and renewing infrastructure across
the province, in particular those that contribute to the safety, well-being
and economic prosperity of all Ontarians."
    "Service centres play an important role in welcoming visitors to
Ontario," said Jim Bradley, Minister of Tourism. "Providing premium amenities
help visitors to have a memorable visit to our great province and make them
want to come back again."
    Any operator leasing the facilities will be required to incorporate road
safety initiatives, which could include additional space and services to
provide rest opportunities for truckers.
    Ontario's service centres have direct access to the highways. They are
open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, year-round, and currently offer
fuel, food, public washrooms, drinking water, parking, picnic areas and public
telephones to motorists.
    The service centres project is the first transportation project to be
delivered under the Province's Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP)
program. Unlike other infrastructure projects where the government pays the
private sector for infrastructure renewal, the selected operator of the
service centres will pay for their redevelopment and provide an ongoing source
of revenue to the Province.
    "This type of private sector redevelopment and revenue sharing model has
the potential to provide significant value for money to taxpayers, while
providing improved services and facilities to the traveling public," says
Derek Burleton, Senior Economist, Toronto Dominion Bank.
    Once qualified operators have been short-listed, they will be invited to
respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP), to be released in winter 2007/2008.
    The Ontario Ministry of Transportation will manage the project with
Infrastructure Ontario, an arm's length Crown Corporation dedicated to the
renewal of the province's hospitals, courthouses and other essential public
assets.
    Using an Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model that ensures
appropriate public control and ownership, Infrastructure Ontario uses private
financing for large-scale and complex projects to strategically rebuild vital
infrastructure, on time and on budget.
    All infrastructure projects will be guided by the principles in the
government's Building a Better Tomorrow framework, ensuring public ownership
of core public assets such as hospitals, schools and water and wastewater
facilities.

    Backgrounder
    ------------

    History

    There are 23 service centres located on Highways 400 and 401. The service
centres are located on lands owned by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
The service centres are individually leased and operated by one of three
operators (Petro-Canada, Imperial Oil (Esso) or Shell Canada) who sublease to
food operators, retail shop owners and tourism organizations.
    The majority of the service centres were built in the 1960s, apart from
three, which were rebuilt in the late 1990s (Newcastle, Ingersoll, and Maple).

    Current uses of the service centres

    The 23 service centres are unique to Ontario as they are the only
facilities with direct access to Highways 400 and 401. Currently, travelers
can stop to rest, buy fuel and food, use public telephones or washrooms, or
have a drink of water, while parking for free. The service centres contribute
to road safety - an important initiative for the Ministry - by providing a
rest area for motorists to take a break and ease fatigue during long drives.
    All service centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on
holidays.

    Where are the service centres located?

    There are ten service centres along the 401 westbound corridor from
Bainsville (Quebec border) to Tilbury (near Windsor); nine service centres
along the 401 eastbound corridor from Tilbury to Morrisburg; two highway
service centres along the 400 southbound corridor at Maple and Cookstown; and
two highway service centres along the 400 northbound corridor at King City and
Barrie.

    
    Highlights of the service centres and Highways 400 and 401

        -  There are 23 service centres along 1,000 kilometres of highway.
        -  The service centres are situated on a total of 900 acres of land
           (362 hectares).
        -  Service centres are within one hour's drive of each other.
        -  More than 500,000 vehicles, including 45,000 trucks in total,
           travel by the sites each day.
        -  Highways 400 and 401 are amongst the busiest highways in North
           America.
        -  More people visit Ontario (traveling along Highway 401) for
           tourism and recreational purposes than any other province.
        -  Highway 401 is the gateway to the Windsor-Detroit border crossing,
           which handles about 28 per cent of the $300 billion Canada-US
           trade volume.
    

    Why redevelop the service centres?

    The service centres contribute to Ontario tourism by providing tourists
with convenient rest, food and fuel stops. The facilities need to be
aesthetically pleasing as they form people's first impression of our province.
Currently, only a few of the sites have been upgraded and many sites are
deteriorating and in need of renewal.
    The service centres also play an important role in maintaining road
safety and economic prosperity. The border crossing between Windsor and
Detroit is the vital economic link between southern Ontario and the United
States. It accounts for 28 per cent of Canada-U.S. merchandise trade. The
truckers hauling merchandise along this corridor are in need of convenient
places to rest, eat and refuel. Commercial motorists can easily take a break
at one of the 23 service centres because they are strategically located along
the highways.
    Twenty of the long-term leases with the oil companies will expire between
2007 and 2011, with the remaining three leases expiring between 2018 and 2025.
With so many of the leases up for renewal, this is an opportune time for the
Ministry to partner with the private sector to renew and revitalize these
facilities to better serve the traveling public.

    The Ministry's vision

    In late August 2007, the Ministry and Infrastructure Ontario started a
procurement process to select a single operator to redevelop all the sites and
to offer a quality suite of standard services and amenities to the traveling
public.

    
    Redevelopment of the service centres will:

        -  provide a network of renewed service centres that offer a quality
           suite of standard services and amenities for the traveling public
           and commercial motorists;
        -  contribute to road safety;
        -  create a reputation for high quality and dependability; and
        -  maximize revenues and leverage current investments.
    

    The service centres project is the first Ministry of Transportation
project to be delivered under the Province's Alternative Financing and
Procurement (AFP) program. AFP makes the best use of private sector resources
and expertise to provide on-time, on-budget project delivery and to transfer
appropriate risks to the private sector.
    Unlike other infrastructure projects where the government pays the
private sector for constructing infrastructure, the selected operator of the
service centres will pay the redevelopment costs. Additionally, the private
sector will continue to pay the government to lease and operate the sites.
    A request for qualifications was released on August 28, 2007.

    Visit www.infrastructureontario.ca for more information.

    Disponible en français




For further information:

For further information: Jamie Rilett, Minister's Office, Ministry of
Transportation, (416) 327-9134; Bob Nichols, Ministry of Transportation, (416)
327-1158; Amy Tang, Minister's Office, Ministry of Public Infrastructure
Renewal, (416) 325-4048; Doug DeRabbie, Infrastructure Ontario, (416)
326-1006

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