The Saskatchewan Government is launching a new economic policy initiative called Saskbuilds, which promotes the use of public-private partnerships (P3)as a method for the finance, design, construction and operation of major infrastructure projects.
“I think the new P3 partnership initiative is good,” said Michael Fougere, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association.
“This will release both municipal and federal funds for infrastructure, which will benefit the construction industry and the province. In order to access the federal P3 account, the province must have P3s.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall released the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth on Oct. 16.
It outlines a plan for investment in infrastructure that will meet the needs of a growing population, which could reach 1.2 million people by 2020.
“Saskbuilds will look at innovative and creative ways of financing our infrastructure needs,” said Karen Low, executive director of Merit Contractors Association Saskatchewan.
“With the recent economic boom and increase in population, our need for infrastructure has grown and will require a sizable outlay from the provincial government if we want to complete all these projects.”
Wall said the government will invest at least $2.5 billion in infrastructure over the next three provincial budgets, which includes an immediate commitment of $150 million from the province’s Growth and Financial Security Fund.
“This new funding will be used to develop partnerships with other levels of government and the private sector,” he said.
“Our government will work with Saskatchewan municipalities to develop a municipal infrastructure program funded through SaskBuilds. When used as a base for P3s, this initial $150 million will leverage hundreds of millions more for SaskBuilds infrastructure projects.”
The new initiative aims to increase planning at the provincial, regional and municipal levels to ensure infrastructure investments are co-ordinated and aligned with the growth of the population and the economy.
“The government is showing real foresight with this initiative because it realizes the need to think forward, instead of reacting to what is happening today,” said Low. “They are developing a business case and setting goals.”
Saskbuilds is designed to achieve this objective through municipal revenue sharing and a future Federal-Provincial-Municipal Infrastructure Agreement.
“This is something that is already being used in Alberta and B.C.,” said Terry Parker, business manager with the Saskatchewan Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council. “This was expected, so we aren’t surprised. We are currently reviewing our position regarding the use of P3s in the province.”
The province’s population has increased by nearly 80,000 people over the past five years.