Canadian Consulting Engineer

How will engineers participate and influence the Public-Private Partnership trend?

ACEC recently participated at a stimulating conference on Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in relation with the design-build project delivery method organized by the Canadian Design-Build Institure (C...

June 1, 2002  Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC recently participated at a stimulating conference on Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in relation with the design-build project delivery method organized by the Canadian Design-Build Institure (CDBI). However, ACEC members’ participation was relatively low in comparison with clients and the contingent of contractors. This absence may have a decisive impact on our relationship with owners and our involvement in P3 projects.

The conference featured a broad variety of speakers: owners, architects, engineers and contractors, providing a well-rounded overview of existing partnerships. Between schools in Nova-Scotia, Highway 407 in Toronto and long-term care facilities in Alberta, the presentations covered both successful and unsuccessful P3 projects, and the basic principles to follow in order to establish a successful partnership. It was refreshing to see that more CE firms are taking a deliberate leadership role in those partnerships, enabling clients to receive the best value and investors the best return.

P3 is on every public owner’s lips at the moment, and we will see more and more projects going that route. For those firms who have an interest in innovation, new trends and business development, it is becoming ever more important that they participate in such events, and for various reasons. First, it allows you to identify and meet the clients interested by that type of process. Second, it establishes your firm’s interest in the industry and proves a highly valuable networking opportunity. Third, it is a great opportunity to learn from the speakers, and others, the methods that work and those that do not.

The key in any P3 project is to bring an edge to every member of the partnership. The public owner wants to benefit from savings in its expenditure, and to benefit from high quality projects; and members from the private sector are looking to make a profit out of the design, construction and operation of the facility. The driving factors of each partnership should be well understood and stated from the beginning in order to ensure a harmonious and successful process.

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That said, the consulting engineering industry would benefit from leadership and involvement by CE firms. This would insure that our industry has a positive influence on how the P3 process will continue to grow and thrive.

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