City councillors have voted unanimously in favour of proceeding with a public-private partnership to pay for upgrades to Regina’s aging wastewater treatment plant.

Under the proposed 30-year agreement, a private firm would design, build, finance, operate and maintain the plant.

Of the three delegations that spoke to council at Monday night’s meeting, two were opposed to the proposal, including the union that represents about 1,300 city workers.

Representatives of CUPE Local 21 told councilors that P3 agreements don’t deliver projects on time and on budget.

They also said municipalities can borrow money at a much lower interest rate than private firms.

But Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and several councillors noted that the city had to go with the P3 option to be eligible for up to $58.7 million in federal funding.

Fougere stressed that the city would retain ownership and control of the plant, and that workers’ jobs would be protected by provincial labour laws.

The city would borrow up to $118.3 million from the private partner to pay for the upgrades, which are estimated to cost upwards of $224.3 million.

An additional $27.5 million in capital spending was previously approved for the project, and another $19.8 million would come from the general utility reserve.

In the coming months, the city will issue a request for qualifications, in which a shortlist of three potential private partners will be identified.

However, if federal money isn’t granted for the project, city administration will look to council to determine the next steps before a request for proposals goes out.

The plant must be upgraded by the end of 2016 to meet new provincial and federal regulations.