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WELLAND, Ont. – Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario President Sid Ryan will meet with members of CUPE 1115, Welland city workers, this Wednesday, February 6, to share with them why privatized facilities like sports complexes and arenas are a rip-off for local residents and a drain on local municipal budgets.
“From Windsor to Kingston to Niagara, local councils have rejected so-called public-private partnerships (P3s) for building and operating community facilities,” says Ryan. “That’s because they end up costing more, are not responsive to local needs, and are less accountable than publicly-owned and operated facilities.”
Ryan’s meeting with CUPE 1115 members comes in the wake of Welland city council’s referral of a proposed $17 million soccer complex and possible arena to its budget review committee. Welland city manager Peter Simmons is promoting the idea that the complex be developed as a public-private partnership.
CUPE has conducted extensive research into public service funding models including P3s. “In general, private borrowers pay at least 1.5% or 2% higher interest rates than municipal governments do, and that can amount to 30 to 40% higher interest payments over a 20-year financing deal,” says Ryan. “As well, private ‘partners’ in these arrangements expect to make a return of about 15% on a project. That’s 15% the public wouldn’t have to pay if the project were handled by the municipality.”
Ryan adds that, in many cases, residents have had to pay higher user fees to access private arenas, they frequently have less access, and they usually face service cuts. Last year, the City of Ottawa took back control of one arena and offered another private operator a bail out of $1.6 million a year to make the deal work. Ryan added that the town of Oshawa went for a P3 arena, and then realized it was a bad deal when they actually saw the financial details.
CUPE Ontario is prepared to work with CUPE 1115 president Scott Richardson and his members to make the case to Welland City Council and its budget review committee that a P3 model is not the right model for Welland’s proposed sports facilities, says Ryan. The matter comes up before the budget review committee on February 12.
For further information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications  647-225-3685
Sid Ryan  CUPE Ontario President  416-209-0066