P3 partners and government officials, including (fourth from left) Hon. Wayne Drysdale, Alberta Minister of Infrastructure, at an official ground breaking for a new school in Red Deer, Alberta. Photograph: Alberta Infrastructure.
Alberta is undertaking another major expansion of school projects, aiming to provide 19 brand new schools in nine communities in the province.
The province has decided that it will continue to use a public-private partnership (P3) approach even though it only received one single response to its request for qualifications to design and build the schools.
The responding consortium that has been invited to submit a proposal for the bundled 19 projects is “Build to Learn,” led by Gracorp Capital Advisors and Bird Capital Limited. The consortium must submit detailed plans and a financial bid to finance and maintain the schools as well as doing the design and construction.
Alberta Infrastructure is assuring the public that it will take steps to ensure the proposal is fairly evaluated and says it will only enter the contract “if value for money is shown.” Furthermore, in its release last November, Alberta Infrastructure said “The private contractor’s bid must be less than [the] government’s cost to deliver the 19 schools through traditional methods.”
Alberta created a unique P3 model for school buildings in 2007, known as the Alberta Schools Alternative Procurement (ASAP) project, and this new round is part of this ongoing initiative.
The P3-bundled 19 schools are just part of the province’s school capital investments. It plans to build a total of 50 new schools and to modernize 70 more, with an investment of nearly $1.4 billion over three years. The schools are needed to keep up with changing demographics and growing enrolments. The government also recently announced that schools will be built in Fort McMurray, Calgary, Edmonton, and Airdrie, for example, and a new school is under way in Red Deer.
The province says it will continue to work closely with local school boards and stakeholders “to explore potential community partnerships and innovative ways of maximizing use of existing and new school space.”
Click here to read a feature articleabout Alberta’s school program, written by Nordahl Flakstadt in Canadian Consulting Engineer: “School Design in the Era of P3s.”