5/22/11

So the private sector assumes the P3 risk, eh?

Advocates of public private partnerships (P3s) often claim the private sector partner will assume the risk. In fact, it's the major way they justify the additional costs of P3s.  


Well, take a look at what is in effect a P3 long term care project in Windsor.  


A project to redevelop the Grace hospital site as a LTC facility is now well behind schedule.  According to the Windsor Star, the developer owes millions of dollars to creditors, there are liens on the property and he is in arrears on his taxes to the tune of more than $1 million.


The developer won the rights to develop the project in 2007 and was supposed to have it completed by March 2010, a little over a year ago.  Now the Star reports the landmark building grows more dilapidated with each passing day. Overgrown weeds, broken windows, busted concrete, mountains of gravel and a punctured building laced with graffiti are what remain of the former Salvation Army hospital.  "I don't have to go to Detroit -I have this to look at," said an exasperated neighbor.


The developer is "probably the only one who has faith he is going to get it done," said city Councillor Ron Jones who represents the ward were Grace is located. "As far as I'm concerned, it's not going to get done in this structure. I believe we need to look at other alternatives."


Earlier this year, Windsor hospitals fell into crisis largely because they are constantly forced to deal with so many long term care patients.  The problem is especially dire in Windsor as another private sector contractor backed out of another P3 deal tendered at the same time as the Grace project. 



A Grace neighbor adds, "I've been in nursing homes and I've seen what it's like. We have people on waiting lists ... people waiting in hospitals....I think it's rude what (the developer) is doing. There is such a need and he's not getting this done." 



Pressed by the Star the province has only now given the developer a June 10 deadline to begin the project.  For his part, the developer says, if he doesn't get to finish the project, the lot will be undeveloped for another three years:



"It will sit there for another three years vacant if I can't develop Grace...There will be legal battles between mortgage holders, lien holders and back taxes will continue to grow and grow. The neighbourhood will further deteriorate."

  

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