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Association of engineering companies examines merits of P3s

Patricia Williams

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada has set up a task force to evaluate the pros and cons of public-private partnerships.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) has set up a task force to examine the pros and cons of public-private partnerships from the industry’s perspective.

Chaired by Francois Plourde of Laval’s CIMA +, the task force will look at the various characteristics of P3s and in particular, “the upsides, downsides and challenges” faced by engineering firms on such projects. Potential risks and rewards will be analyzed as well.

“Part of the purpose is just to get an idea of where things are at, what the pitfalls and opportunities are and to provide a bit of background information for our members,” said ACEC chair Andy Robinson, president of Ottawa’s Robinson Consultants Inc.

A deadline has not been set for completion of the project. But Robinson hopes a preliminary report “at least” will be available for presentation at ACEC’s board meeting next February.

John Gamble, president of Consulting Engineers of Ontario, said the initiative is an important one given that P3s will continue to be a model for delivery of infrastructure and other engineering assets.

“One of the challenges we face is that there are fundamentally different models being used across the country, each with their relative strengths and merits,” he said.

“So it’s important that we as an industry keep our eye on the ball.”

The ACEC task force will plug into work already under way by such organizations as the Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec and the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).

CCA president Michael Atkinson said a draft version of a P3 guide aimed at small and medium-sized contractors is expected to be tabled for discussion at the association’s fall board meeting in late September.

“We’re calling this P3 101,” he said. “The document will describe in part what P3s are, how they tend to be structured and delivered, who the key players are and some typical contractual relationships.”

The CCA task force was set up just over a year ago.

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