O&M’s critical role in P3s a dominant theme at CCPPP 2022

The importance of operations and maintenance (O&M) as part of the significant benefits that a P3 can offer was a key theme during this year’s Canadian Council for PPPs (CCPPP) conference in Toronto.

Credit: CCPPP

Concerns are increasingly being raised across the industry that the rise of design-build-finance and other P3 approaches that cut out the O&M elements could have a long-term detrimental effect on the way P3s are perceived.

“We can’t lose sight of the importance of lifecycle,” Lisa Mitchell, president and chief executive of the CCPPP, told P3 Bulletin during a conversation reflecting on the conference. “We are still dealing with an infrastructure gap in Canada, one that we have been talking about for many years.”

To this end, Concert Infrastructure managing director, Derron Bain, pointed to the large deferred maintenance bills facing schools across the country’s provinces. Speaking during one of the panel sessions, he also highlighted comments from politicians in Nova Scotia, who said P3 schools were well-maintained in comparison with traditionally built schools.

However, there was unease from the industry in the number of projects on Infrastructure Ontario’s latest pipeline update - unveiled at the conference - that are being procured under models that do not include O&M.

IO chief executive, Michael Lindsay, looked to quell concerns, insisting: “We remain believers in the need for an intentional plan for maintenance at the time that assets are created. Even where we don’t have maintenance within the scope, we are working to ensure there is a coherent maintenance plan even though that might not be bundled into the contract.”

Some, however, worried that if the money for O&M is not established at the outset, it is unlikely to be added in later and therefore could fall by the wayside.

Despite these concerns, Louise Panneton, managing director at P1 Consulting, told delegates that now is the time when asset owners and managers should be thinking about lifecycle and maintenance more than ever, because these issues have a big role to play in reducing carbon emissions.