Public Values

Privatizing Penticton event centre cost local taxpayers heavily

Operational deficits, delays and cost overruns have forced Penticton to reduce services in other vital areas.

John Loxley and Robin Ruff speak on the effects of privatizing the events centre in Penticton.PENTICTON, BC, November 28, 2010: The privatization of the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) has cost local taxpayers so much that a capacity crowd attended a news conference with researcher Robin Roff of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), where she released a report condemning the project called A White Elephant in Wine Country.

The report, which examines the and the impact of this public-private partnership (P3) on the community, showed that "residents of Penticton are paying a very high price for the City's decision to enter into a 20-year public-private partnership," according to Roff, in a report on the newswebsite Canada Online. "In the case of the South Okanagan Events Centre, operational deficits, delays and cost overruns have forced Penticton to reduce services in other vital areas, like policing and community recreation," said Roff.

"The project has been plagued by cost overruns, construction delays and operating deficits," wrote Roff. "Poor attendance and an inability to attract sufficient large conventions to the City forced Global Spectrum Management, the private firm overseeing operations of the facilities, to cut ticket and concession prices, but still, long-term operating deficits are predicted.

"Privatization of the facilities has also impacted wellness and recreational opportunities for youth, seniors and other community members. Ice fees at the new facility are significantly higher than those at the previously publicly operated rinks. Residents have had to fight for access to the promised indoor walking track, which is in reality merely the SOECÂ’s main concourse."

She said Penticton's experience is not unique and there is a mounting body of evidence indicating public-private partnerships do not deliver the cost savings and service improvements promised.

Click here for the report summary.

Posted: December 07, 2010

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