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Janz calls for 'lobbyist registry' at Edmonton City Hall as city considers $26.5M pedway contract

A city councillor wants to create a “lobbyist registry” for people or groups who meet with, or donate to, council members and high-level city staff.

The call comes as councillors scrutinize a plan by city staff to grant a $26.5 million construction contract to the Ledcor Group without a competitive bidding process.

The work involves a pedway to connect two towers at the Station Lands development to the city's underground pedway system.

Ledcor is already building one of the towers. The company also built the pedway to the Royal Alberta Museum back in 2014 and at that time also did some work to prepare for the pedway project.

"Going through a procurement process where we end up with a different contractor, I think, presents a risk that we’re not comfortable with," explained deputy city manager Adam Laughlin.

"They have done part of the work, and to get it done in a faster way, quicker way, because Station Lands development is a very important development for the city," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

Coun. Michael Janz voted against the project last January because he doesn’t like seeing any public money being used for a pedway to a private development.

Council voted 10-3 to uphold the deal with councillors Anne Stevenson and Jo-Anne Wright agreeing with Janz.

Now, he’s using the sole-source contract to renew his call for a municipal lobbyist registry, similar to what is done in provincial and federal politics.

"This is just good governance, I don't think anybody should object to it, and again, there may be very valid reasons for this contract but it’s just asking administration and those involved to show their work," Janz said.

The Ward Papastew councillor insists he’s not implying foul play in the case of the Ledcor contract. Rather, Janz sees it as a natural opportunity to increase transparency at city hall.

"If there’s a contract coming forward, and proprietors have been lobbying administration or councillors or the mayor for months and months or even years beforehand, that’s something that we should be aware of in our deliberation,"Janz stated.

It’s something the mayor says he's open to but worries a lobbyist registry will be expensive.

"They end up costing taxpayers millions and millions of dollars, and that’s something that we don’t want to create here," Sohi said.

A spokesperson for Ledcor declined to comment on the contract process but said roughly $20 million of the budget will be paid to subcontractors and those details will be shared with the city in "a fully transparent manner."

On Wednesday, the city's executive committee voted 5-0 to recommend that the sole-source agreement with Ledcor be granted. The deal still requires final approval at a future meeting of all councillors. Top Stories

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