Metro LRT 'a severe black eye' for city, Mike Nickel says

City councillor Mike Nickel says Metro LRT line debacle threatens to scar Edmonton’s reputation with other governments and is another example of “glaring administrative deficiencies” at the city.

Councillors set to grill city manager on project Monday

In the post, Coun. Mike Nickel's blog accuses the city manager of being caught unaware by the problems plaguing the line. (CBC)

City councillor Mike Nickel says the Metro LRT line debacle threatens to scar Edmonton's reputation with other governments and is another example of "glaring administrative deficiencies" at the city.

Nickel wrote the comments in a blog post on his website published Monday morning.

It's in response to last week's audit report on the project, which found the contract was plagued by mismanagement and poor communication.

"These ups and downs of seemingly imaginative productivity leave a severe black eye, not just for the administration, but on our City's reputation," Nickel wrote.

"I am quite sure our federal and provincial counterparts who provided funding towards this project are looking at Council and are wondering just what is going on in Edmonton?"

The $668-million line was originally slated to open in April 2014. But after 16 months of delays, promises and accusations of missing information, it remains closed to passengers.

Earlier this month, the city announced it would open the line on Sept. 6, albeit with reduced service -- which will avoid fully using the automated signalling system, relying heavily on the eyesight of train drivers while travelling at lower speeds.

Nickel's post seems to place blame on Simon Farbrother, Edmonton's city manager, and accuses him and other senior administrators of being caught unaware.

"Do they understand the mechanics operating together to make these projects move forward?  Or do they just close the hood and hope for the best?"

Nickel will get the chance to ask those questions in person Monday: it's the first time councillors will be able to question Farbrother about the auditor's report.

He said the answers to those questions will determine how much confidence he puts in the city's administration going forward.