Report shows P3 bypass fiasco costs more

Sask. Party claims $476.9 million in avoided “risk” to justify spending more

The government’s own numbers show that a traditional construction model would cost $200 million less than the Sask. Party’s European P3 rent-a-road scheme.

And, in a biased attempt to hide the fact that the Regina bypass is a boondoggle, the Sask. Party is peddling a value for money report that includes $476.9 million in “retained risk” calculations that have been found to be bogus in other jurisdictions.

“The only one getting a good deal on this project is the corporation from Europe that will rake in billions of Saskatchewan dollars,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “I’d remind the Sask. Party that the money they’re playing with belongs to Saskatchewan families.”

The Regina bypass was initially slated to be $400 million. That cost escalated to $800 million. When the Sask. Party decided to use a P3, it escalated to $1.2 billion. When they hired a European company to build, operate and maintain the road, the price shot up to $1.8 billion. That cost doesn’t include the price of land. A value-for-money report released Tuesday claims that a traditional build would cost $1.6 billion – saving at least $200 million. But then, to justify the P3 contract already signed, the Sask. Party adds a half-billion-dollar “risk” number with no supporting details – despite the fact that other jurisdictions have found such a line to be made-up.

Ontario’s Auditor General has reviewed 74 P3 projects in that province. Despite value for money reports, taxpayers paid $8 billion more than they would have with traditional builds. The biggest causes of the much-higher price tags were made-up risk transfer numbers and credit-card high interest charges being paid to the private consortiums.

Of course, the Sask. Party will keep the breakdown of the supposed $476.9 million in risk transfer secret, along with most details of the Sask. Party’s P3 rent-a-road contract. The Sask. Party voted against having an up-front independent audit of its assumptions.

“It seems the Sask. Party is making up numbers to justify throwing billions to a European corporation to own and operate the bypass when Saskatchewan companies could build it better and cheaper. It’s pretty clear that Saskatchewan taxpayers aren’t the Sask. Party’s priority here,” said Wotherspoon.

The Sask. Party’s claim that the P3 could be built faster is only because the Sask. Party is refusing to build it at the same speed themselves.

The value for money report doesn’t consider whether the controversial route chosen by the Sask. Party for the bypass – one far too close to the city – is the smartest choice.

The NDP has also expressed deep concern about a bizarre plan to have the European company plow that small stretch of road instead of continuing to have the snowplows the province already owns and operates do that.