Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Gordie Howe Bridge project and the new Toronto courthouse are the two 2019 Ontario winners of Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships, granted by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships (CCPPP).
The awards for these projects, along with three others in the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Quebec, will be handed out at the group’s 27th annual conference on Nov. 18 in Toronto.
CCPPP president and CEO Mark Romoff congratulated the winners in a statement.
“We are quickly approaching the 30-year mark for the use of P3s in Canada and have 285 projects in operation or under construction, which is why it’s so exciting to see there are still new ways the public and private sectors and Indigenous communities can work together to find innovative and sustainable approaches to developing, financing and maintaining public infrastructure that achieves the best outcomes for Canadians,” he said.
“Independent research has demonstrated that P3s create jobs, drive economic growth and enhance productivity, which is why the ‘made-in-Canada’ P3 model continues to be globally respected and emulated.”
“We had a larger than usual number of submissions this year, which made the work of our volunteers who assessed the submissions quite challenging,” said awards committee chair Cliff Inskip, president of Polar Star Advisory Services Inc. “The five projects selected are quite diverse but they all share this in common: a tremendous sense of teamwork, ingenuity, perseverance and desire to truly deliver great infrastructure that improves the lives of Canadians.”
Gold Award winners
Gordie Howe International Bridge Project (Project Financing Award)
This international crossing — which will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and the first new major trade link between the United States and Canada in four decades — represents one of the largest recent private financings of a P3 in Canada with a total project cost of $5.7 billion. The binational and high-profile nature of this project posed some “interesting challenges” for the team to overcome from working with two different sets of codes, regulations, standards, taxation systems and currencies to environmental issues and border security, the awards committee said.
The project itself was very large and technically complex involving a large bridge span, highway works and two ports of entry. The step-up step-down security package provided to lenders is unique and the project is the first Canadian P3 to use a non-traditional foreign exchange risk framework to balance fluctuating currency prices, setting a precedent for future cross-border transactions.
Partners: Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and Bridging North America
Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road (Project Development Award)
This 97-kilometre all-season gravel highway, which will link the remote northern community of Whatì with its neighbours in the Northwest Territories, is among the first P3s in North America with an Indigenous government that has a cash-funded equity stake in the project.
“This is a project that includes substantive benefits for the Indigenous community throughout the construction and operation of the project,” the awards committee said. The project is also notable for its unique approach to handling long-term risks related to climate change, which is happening at an unprecedented rate in the North. To address this challenge, the territorial government worked with its advisers and a climate specialist to develop a “bespoke climate change risk-sharing regime” using cutting-edge modelling, enabling the partners to more efficiently price their potential exposure to this risk for long-term operations and maintenance of a road constructed above the permafrost. This climate change risk-sharing model could be used to help other projects globally. The territorial government has said the total cost using the P3 model over 28 years compared favourably to a traditional design-bid-build procurement.
Partners: Government of the Northwest Territories and North Star Infrastructure GP
Silver Award winners
The New Toronto Courthouse (Project Development Award)
Construction is underway on Ontario’s first high-rise courthouse in Toronto’s downtown core, which will amalgamate six Ontario Court of Justice criminal courthouse locations in one new, accessible location. The P3 project, with an estimated cost savings of $228.7 million compared to the more traditional approach to procurement, is “noteworthy for its design considerations, as well as its significant stakeholder consultations” to improve access to justice and enhance operational efficiencies, as well as commemorating the rich cultural and heritage value of the site, said the awards committee. Along with its 63 courtrooms and 10 conference rooms, the 17-storey facility will include improved security features integrated throughout the design of the courthouse and house the first Indigenous Learning Centre in an Ontario courthouse.
Partners: The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, Infrastructure Ontario and EllisDon Infrastructure (with Renzo Piano Building Workshop and NORR Architects & Engineers Limited).
Library and Archives Canada’s Gatineau 2 Project (Project Development Award)
This new flagship building will sit next to and complement the award-winning Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Que., which will also undergo improvements under this project. It will be the first “net-zero carbon” facility dedicated to archival preservation in the Americas and the first federal building constructed to the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy. This will also be the world’s largest preservation facility equipped with a high-tech automated archive storage and retrieval system. Overall, the project will not only allow Library and Archives Canada to ensure that Canada’s precious national collections are kept under optimal preservation conditions, but also set a global standard following the example of its existing Preservation Centre, which is often the envy of other memory institutions at home and abroad.
Partners: Library and Archives Canada and Plenary Properties Gatineau
Stoney CNG Bus Storage and Transit Facility (Infrastructure Award)
This gigantic facility near the Calgary International Airport can hold more than 500 standard 12-metre buses and is the largest indoor compressed natural gas bus fuelling complex in North America and one of the largest in the world. But not only are the buses using greenhouse gas reducing technology, this “showpiece facility” is an “impressive example of infrastructure built and designed to incorporate sustainability,” the awards committee said, pointing to its innovative top-down ventilation design that safely and efficiently removes air contaminants, as well as its rainwater harvesting system for its bus wash system. The P3 project has an estimated cost savings of 34.7 per cent or $162.6 million compared to a traditional procurement.
Partners: The City of Calgary and Plenary Infrastructure Calgary (Plenary/PCL/JCI)