$26M single-sourced pedway project east of downtown Edmonton faces council vote

Edmonton city councillors will soon decide whether to trust city administration's judgment call to award a $26.4 million contract to one company without letting others bid on the job. 

City administration chooses Station Lands site contractor Ledcor to lead project

Closed automatic doors heading into a hallway.
Section of pedway between Edmonton City Centre and Churchill station. City administration opted to give a sole-sourced contract to Ledcor to build a pedway to connect Churchill LRT station to the future Station Lands development south of 105th Avenue between 97th and 101st streets. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

Edmonton city councillors will soon decide whether to trust city administration's judgment call to award a $26.4 million contract to one company without letting others bid on the job. 

The city is asking council to approve a single-sourced contract to Ledcor to build an underground pedway linking the Churchill LRT station to Station Lands — a residential and commercial development south of 105th Avenue between 97th and 101st Street. 

City councillors questioned administration Wednesday at an executive committee meeting before sending the request for a vote at a council meeting next week.

"I'm not sure why we wouldn't go through the standard process," Coun. Andrew Knack said, of the single-sourced procurement. 

"I think people would ask, 'Why don't you just take the time to go through that process if there's a risk in that process?' " 

Ledcor constructed the pedway "shell" in 2015 that will be part of the completed 103A Avenue pedway, the city report says.

The underground pedestrian tunnel will extend the LRT pedway from the Churchill LRT Station to the Station Lands site. It will have a connection to the Royal Alberta Museum.

Ledcor is the site contractor for Qualico's Stations Lands development.

Adam Laughlin, the city's manager of integrated infrastructure services, said hiring Ledcor would cut down on risk that hiring a different contractor might pose. 

"We feel that we are proceeding in a way that minimizes cost impacts, site management, prime contractor responsibility and gives us the best risk to deliver this project within the parameters of the capital profile," Laughlin told councillors. 

The city usually uses an open competitive procurement process as its preferred method, unless substantial business reasons outweigh the use of a competitive procurement process, Laughlin told CBC News. 

"We believe this particular pedway project has unique circumstances, which led us to recommend a single-source agreement," he said in an emailed statement.

Bruce Ferguson, manager of LRT expansion and renewal in the integrated infrastructure services department, said putting the project out to tender may take six to nine months to choose a contractor. 

Job includes subcontracts

Coun. Anne Stevenson also wanted to verify the reasoning for the sole-sourced contract.  

"It's definitely a really large number," Stevenson said, though she acknowledged the efficiency of having a single construction manager on site. 

"They're already on an active construction site that our project will be interfacing with." 

Laughlin and Ferguson said Ledcor intends to subcontract work on the mechanical, electrical and concrete jobs in a public, competitive process.

"The vast bulk of the work and the value of the $26 million will be competitively tendered," Stevenson noted. 

Laughlin also noted that council will get regular updates on the project. 

"This is still a City of Edmonton project," Laughlin said. "So the normal methods we use to update council on the progress of these projects in terms of scope, schedule and budget will be provided through Building Edmonton and our quarterly updates." 

Call to create a lobbyist registry 

After the sole-sourced report was made public on the executive committee agenda, Coun. Michael Janz posted a blog on his website, calling for an online lobbyist registry for city hall. 

"We must increase transparency and public oversight regarding power and influence over city hall," his post reads. 

He said the public deserves to know who stands to profit financially from city projects.

"By being open about who has access to councillors and administration, we can provide a greater level of confidence to constituents about the decisions being made."

The registry would require meetings between a person or organization and the mayor, councillors or city administration to be logged and reported publicly. 


Natasha Riebe


Natasha Riebe landed at CBC News in Edmonton after radio, TV and print journalism gigs in Halifax, Seoul, Yellowknife and on Vancouver Island. Please send tips in confidence to natasha.riebe@cbc.ca.