Opting for P3 model should be left up to city, Edmonton mayor says

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is hoping the new UCP government will leave the approach to future infrastructure projects up to the city.

“Local knowledge and the contractual arrangements are best left in the hands of the municipality, so we prefer maximum flexibility,” he said Monday. 

Iveson was responding to comments by Premier Jason Kenney, who called for more private-public partnerships for infrastructure projects.

“We’re going to be very aggressive about pursuing P3s to bring private sector capital into helping to build public infrastructure,” Kenney told reporters during a media availability.

“We think in the long run, the way we can get more job-creating infrastructure to make Alberta’s economy more efficient is through public-private partnerships.”

Under P3 models, the private sector takes on the majority share of financing and construction, including long-term maintenance.

Iveson said he understood Kenney was speaking about provincial infrastructure projects like schools and hospitals and doesn’t anticipate the UCP will mandate specifics for municipal projects.

Mayor Don Iveson hasn’t heard that Premier Jason Kenney would impose a model on city-specific projects. (Peter Evans/CBC)

“We would want to make the decision on an Edmonton infrastructure project of whether it does or doesn’t make sense rather than have that decision imposed on us by a senior order of government.”

City council recently decided that the second stage of the Valley Line LRT from downtown to Lewis Farms will not be done in a P3 model.

The Valley Line Southeast LRT from Mill Woods to downtown is run as a P3 by TransED — an international consortium of companies including Bechtel, EllisDon, Bombardier and Fengate Capital Management Ltd.

TransEd is building the line and is also responsible for maintaining and operating the southeast portion for 30 years. 

It was scheduled to open in December 2020, but is behind schedule. TransEd has refused to say when the line will open. 

Iveson said extending the first phase of the line into the second would be technically and contractually difficult and not as competitive.

“You can’t just extend the contract to the phase one guys without there being some competition out there for building the tracks, maintaining certain things, getting the vehicles, operating the vehicles,” he said. “The procurement would be too complicated to try to layer on a second P3 on top of a first P3 with P3 trains running back and forth on each other’s lines.”

The 14-kilometre Valley Line West LRT will be a “design-built and vehicle-procurement” project instead, with the city deciding on a contractor to design and build the new train and getting a different group to operate and maintain it. 

The province committed $1 billion to the project, alongside $1 billion from the federal government for the $2.7 billion project. 

The city is expected to secure a contractor for the west portion by early 2020.


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