'I shouldn't have said that': Edmonton mayor reveals private details about west LRT line

In an unusual move, Mayor Don Iveson leaked information Tuesday about the future west leg of the Valley Line LRT, saying it likely won't be built and run as a private-public partnership like the southeast leg.

Don Iveson says Valley Line West likely not be a P3 project like the southeast leg

Don Iveson said securing a contractor for the Valley Line west LRT will be far less complicated than it was for the Valley Line southeast portion. (CBC)

In an unusual move, Mayor Don Iveson leaked information Tuesday about the future west leg of the Valley Line LRT, saying it likely won't be built and run as a private-public partnership like the southeast leg.

"The complexity of the west LRT procurement will be far, far lower than the complexity of Phase 1 of the Valley Line," the mayor told reporters during a scrum at city hall.

Asked why the west leg would be less complex, Iveson said: "Because it's not a P3."

Asked for clarification, the mayor paused. Then he said, "I shouldn't have said that."

Council has been talking behind closed doors about who will get the contract for the next phase of the line.​

Mayor and councillors are not allowed to disclose what is discussed in private sessions.

Iveson backtracked slightly and indicated a P3 model for the west leg was still an option. 

"It's not likely that the entire thing will be yet another full P3, the way Phase 1 was," he said.

P3 still on table, mayor's office says

Soon after the mayor made his comments, the media manager for the mayor's office followed up with an email to reporters.

"What the mayor said was not my understanding," Cheryl Oxford said in an email after Iveson's media scrum. "P3 is, in fact, still one of the procurement options on the table."

The $1.8-billion Valley Line Southeast from Mill Woods to 102nd Avenue downtown is being built and will be operated as a public-private partnership by a consortium called TransEd Partners.

When the contract was announced in November 2015, the city said the P3 would transfer to the private sector significant risks for budget, schedule or performance delays, as well as ongoing costs for maintenance and operations.

TransEd is a partnership of companies that includes Fengate Capital Management, Bechtel, Ellis-Don, and Bombardier. Other key team members include Transdev, ARUP, and IBI Group.

The group was chosen following an 18-month procurement process that accepted proposals from three international teams.

Construction on the 13-kilometre line started in the spring of 2016. The line is expected to open by 2020. 

The mayor acknowledged Tuesday that TransEd has had "challenges" with bridge construction but stopped short of saying construction has been delayed.

"As to overall impact on the project, they said at the time their intent was to make it back up," Iveson said.

The mayor said the city hopes to set the contract specifications for the Valley Line West by later this year or early next year.

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