It’s government’s privatized way, or nothing

NDP calls on government to support a second bridge in Prince Albert without privatization demands

The provincial government has taken its privatization push to a new level. It has repeatedly stated that it believes Prince Albert doesn’t need a second bridge – but now says it will consider chipping in only if the city chooses a typically more expensive P3 method for the bridge.

“Prince Albert families and businesses need a second bridge. They do not need manipulative political games,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader. “Telling Prince Albert their only hope for a second bridge under this government is if they go the privatized route is an attempt by this government to hold a city hostage to its politics.”

Wotherspoon said the government’s story doesn’t add up.

“If Prince Albert families and municipal leadership want to build a second bridge and own it themselves, the province says a second bridge is absolutely not necessary in Prince Albert. But if the city wants to allow an out-of-province or international company to build a bridge then rent it back, with interest, and pay more in the long run, then all of a sudden this government thinks maybe Prince Albert does need a second bridge.

“That’s completely lacking in common sense,” said Wotherspoon.

Wotherspoon and the NDP have pushed for the province to support the second bridge that Prince Albert needs, but citing a study it performed, the province said Prince Albert and the north don’t warrant a second bridge, and won’t for many years.

The NDP believes a second bridge, built in whichever method proves to be most cost-effective, is necessary to spur economic growth and realize the potential of Prince Albert and the north.

In a P3 project, the government turns to a private corporation – often a large multi-national company – to build the bridge, while the government essentially rents it back over a decades-long contract, paying both interest and maintenance costs throughout the payment contract. Often at the end of the contract, the government is required to give the company another lump sum payment to gain full ownership. While profitable for out-of-province corporations, these deals typically cost taxpayers more while the public loses control over its local infrastructure.