Oh look, a P3 that works!

Oh look, a P3 that works!
Gare du Palais, Québec City — Photo by Tristan Gevaux on Unsplash

In my Ottawa Citizen column I discuss a successful public-private partnership I discovered when I took up ultimate. Domes in Ottawa are a rare example of something useful that was done right and that enjoys a great deal of success and no criticism that I can see. What lessons does this have for other P3s like Landsdowne and the LRT, other than “frisbeeing is truly cool”? 

This reflection was inspired by a train trip to Montreal on VIA last weekend. And by the way those new Siemens cars are pretty near awesome, especially the compartment for bikes. At the moment you’re not allowed to take your fav set of bi-wheels to Toronto, but in the rest of the corridor it’s allowed and thank you progress. 

I was sitting there reading and thinking, as one does on a train so much better than on a plane, about the magnificent stations we have in this country — among those the Gare du Palais in Quebec City and Union Station in Toronto. Montreal’s Gare centrale is alright too but less beautiful by a long shot. It was also built later, which maybe explains things.

The old station in Ottawa, across from the Chateau Laurier, was magnificent but for some brutalist modern reason in the mid-60s the powers that be decided to shut this down and move the station to where it is now on Tremblay Road, which is not nearly as convenient or pleasant to use. And they built that station with not enough amenities and services. We have two stations in Ottawa (Tremblay Rd and Fallowfield) and there’s only one coffee shop between them. This isn’t right. 

The old stations that look and feel so damn awesome and nearly romantic were not public-private partnerships the way we understand them today, but they kind of were for their time. And they were built right, for the right reasons and with the right purposes in mind. Today they are still famously in use (nearly 11 million rail passengers in Montreal and 72 million for Union) precisely because of those reasons.

And that’s to say nothing of the old Canadian Pacific hotels like the above in Banff, built for railway passengers and still, to this day, worth putting on a postcard. 

I couldn’t keep you on legal-writing vacation that much longer and this week there is plenty of that including a piece on how prisoners in this country too often see their right to counsel badly or not at all enforced. I also have an article on ESG risks in pension management, which may not be as interesting to everyone as this longer piece on treaty negotiations on artificial intelligence.

I was wrong, woohoo!

A few weeks ago, discussing the doubling of tuition for Canadian students going to English universities in Quebec, I said this hike would be here to stay. It appears I got that wrong, with the Legault government reportedly getting ready to climb down and announce the hike would be about a third more, not double, for Canadian students coming from provinces other than Quebec. For international students the tuition increase will remain the same. Looks like the government finally saw that if you price yourself out of the market you won’t get more money, which they would have known if only they’d taken the time to think about their idea for more than 42 seconds. (And as you know, 42 is always the answer.)