LRT campaign cost $728K, more than twice original amount

The city of Edmonton spent $351,000 on hiring a Vancouver firm to promote LRT expansion, CBC News has learned.
Mayor Don Iveson told the public in February that the LRT campaign would cost $275,000. (CBC )

The city of Edmonton spent $351,000 on hiring a Vancouver firm to promote LRT expansion, CBC News has learned.

That’s on top of the $275,000 Mayor Don Iveson said the city was spending in February. Everything else was supposed to be done “in house”

However, documents obtained by CBC through a freedom of information request show the total for the promotional campaign was $728,000, more than twice what the public was originally told.

Iveson said he was not trying to mislead anyone. 

“I meant the advertising campaign when I was talking about a $275,000 campaign,” he said.

“We did get additional help to do the government relations side and I think it was money well-spent because we achieved our objective.

The agreement with the Stewart Group was a sole-source contract approved by city manager Simon Farbrother two months ago.

While Iveson knew about the contract, at least three city councillors say they did not. 

“I'll be asking the city manager...why we weren't made aware of that in any way, shape or form,” Coun. Dave Loken said. 

“I think we'll probably have some questions for the mayor,” said Coun. Scott McKeen.

"I don't recall a sole source contract," Coun. Mike Nickel said. 

Derek Fildebrandt with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is concerned that the contract was not put out to tender.

“This sets off so many alarm bells,” he said.  “This was not spending directly approved by council. I think a serious second look needs to be taken here.”

Clarifications

  • CBC has clarified that the Stewart Group provided consulting services to the City of Edmonton to enable the mayor to more effectively lobby the provincial and federal governments.
    Apr 15, 2014 2:49 PM MT

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston

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