Edmonton looking at SNC-Lavalin to build Valley Line West LRT

Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, embroiled in a major Canadian political scandal, is on a shortlist of teams bidding to build Edmonton’s Valley Line West LRT.

Embattled Quebec engineering giant among teams on construction short list

A city rendering of the Valley Line West LRT street-level stop at Glenora. (City of Edmonton)

Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, embroiled in a major Canadian political scandal, is on a shortlist of companies bidding to build Edmonton's Valley Line West LRT.

In a news release Wednesday, the City of Edmonton announced it has shortlisted three teams to take part in the next stage of the procurement process to design, build, supply light rail vehicles and partially finance the 14-kilometre LRT link between downtown and Lewis Farms.

The federal and Alberta governments have each pledged to help fund the project, which is estimated to cost $2.7 billion. Last November, Alberta pledged $1.04 billion. In March of this year, the federal government pledged $948 million.

The teams shortlisted to take part in the request for proposals stage of the process are:

Flatiron | AECON | Dragados Valley Line West Joint Venture, with the following team members and guarantors:

  • ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. (with Dragados Canada Inc.)
  • AECON Concessions (with AECON Infrastructure Management Inc.)
  • HOCHTIEF PPP Solutions North America (with Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited)

Urban Mobility Partners, with the following team members and guarantors:

  • Eurovia Infra (with Carmacks Enterprises Ltd., I&S Mobility May Inc., and
  • Rail Cantech Inc.)
  • Graham Capital Partners LP (with Graham Infrastructure LP)
  • Parsons Inc.

WestLINK Group, with the following team members and guarantors:

  • SNC-Lavalin Capital Inc. (with SNC-Lavalin Constructions (Pacific) Inc. and SNC-Lavalin Inc.)

Last week a Quebec judge ruled there is enough evidence against SNC-Lavalin for the engineering corporation to be tried on fraud and bribery charges.

Federal prosecutors allege SNC-Lavalin paid around $48 million in bribes to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011, a violation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Prosecutors also allege SNC-Lavalin defrauded a number of Libyan institutions out of $130 million over the same period.

No date has been set for SNC-Lavalin's criminal trial.

If found guilty, SNC-Lavalin could face a 10-year ban on receiving federal government contracts.

SNC-Lavalin had hoped to use a new legal mechanism, a deferred prosecution agreement, to pay a fine rather than risk conviction on the charges.

The efforts continued even after the head of the federal prosecution service told the company that no deal was forthcoming.

That helped ignite a major political scandal when the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, accused the Prime Minister's Office of pressuring her to arrange a deal for SNC-Lavalin.

The company partnered with Graham Construction to build Edmonton's North LRT line to NAIT. 

Bruce Ferguson, the city's branch manager for LRT expansion and renewal, said SNC-Lavalin was shortlisted because the company was "qualified for the project, or to proceed at least to the next stage of the project."

Ferguson said the charges SNC-Lavalin faces are not currently a concern for the city.

"It's not a concern, it's definitely something that we'll keep our eye on as as this unfolds," he said.

The contract for the LRT will likely be awarded between February and April next year, Ferguson said. 

Earlier this year, SNC-Lavalin won a $1.6-billion contract to extend and maintain an LRT line in Ottawa.

SNC-Lavalin's bid came in at $230 million more than the city had initially planned to spend, but the company promised to save Ottawa $100 million over the 27-year maintenance contract.

Construction on Valley Line West is planned to start in 2020. It's the second stage of the 27-kilometre Valley Line LRT that will operate between Mill Woods and Lewis Farms.

A consortium composed of Bechtel, EllisDon, Bombardier, and Fengate Capital Management Ltd., with help from Arup Canada and IBI Group, is currently building the Valley Line LRT to Mill Woods.


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