EDMONTON -- The Alberta government has announced that five new schools across Alberta could be funded through a public-private partnership (P3).

  • K-9 Catholic school & K-9 public school both in Edmonton, Windemere-Keswick
  • K-9 Catholic school in Cochrane
  • K-9 Francophone school in Legal
  • K-4 public school in Calgary, Auburn Bay

The five schools were listed in a group of 25 capital projects as part of Alberta’s 2019 Capital plan.

“We know that we need spaces, we are in desperate need of schools in our city and so if this is the model that the government has chosen this is the model that we have to live with,” said Trisha Estabrooks, Chair of Edmonton public Schools.

The Edmonton Public School Board found out about the possible P3 funding Tuesday morning.

Estabrooks said she isn’t surprised by the announcement as Premier Jason Kenney indicated during the previous provincial election the P3 funding model was an option for schools.

A P3 is an arrangement between public and private sectors, mainly used to fund infrastructure projects like schools, hospitals and transport systems.

The model is seen as somewhat controversial over concerns that the public return on investment can be lower than the returns for the private funder.

“I would hope that when the government considers a P3 model they would take those negative potential (impacts) into consideration,” said Estabrooks. “I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of this process before it’s even started.”

“At EPSB we look forward to continued conversations around this and look forward to hearing from the government about the business case that they are working on and their approach to public-private partnerships.”

Edmonton Catholic school Board Chair Laura Thibert sent CTV News Edmonton a statement saying:

“Edmonton Catholic Schools looks forward to working together with Alberta Education and Alberta Infrastructure in the design and building process of our new Keswick K-9 Catholic School. We hope to work together to evaluate past P3 processes and practices and make improvements to ensure that the best possible school is built for our students.”

Estabrooks said it is too early in the process to tell what potential benefits or impacts will result from P3 schools.

“The idea of P3s is certainly something that our board has talked about. Currently we have an infrastructure committee and they are looking at the viability of using P3s as a model to build schools, both the benefits and the drawbacks.”

She said at the end of the day, she, the board and parents are happy to see more schools being built.

The government said in a press release to CTV News Edmonton that in the past 40 schools have been built using P3s.