'We will dig deeper': Questions abound over delay plagued Valley Line LRT and the P3 model
Yet another delay to the opening of the Valley Line Southeast LRT has some questioning the value that public-private partnership (P3) infrastructure projects have, with the city pledging a comprehensive review into the practice.
On Wednesday, the CEO of TransEd announced that cracks on three concrete piers supporting elevated tracks along the new LRT line would delay the opening of the project indefinitely, with another 18 piers that "may require strengthening."
Construction on the project started in 2016, with the route initially scheduled to open in December 2020. A "large concrete mass" was discovered under the Tawatinâ Bridge in 2018 that set construction back for months.
That bridge opened in December 2021, but the Valley Line opening was pushed back to within 2021, then the end of 2021, and summer 2022. In an update in December 2021, TransEd indicated that around 96 per cent of the construction for the 13-kilometre LRT leg was completed.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the latest delays were "frustrating and deeply disappointing."
"We will dig deeper into the root causes, and TransEd needs to be held accountable because that is a basic engineering design that companies have been doing for decades and decades," Sohi said Wednesday. "Obviously, as part of our process to hold TransEd accountable for this project, we will dig deeper into that."
"I hope that TransEd will be able to come back to us quickly on what they are going to do to fix those deficiencies and fix them in a permanent way, that we have a safe system to rely on," Sohi added.
The LRT extension to Mill Woods is a public-private partnership (P3) involving the city and TransEd, with the federal and provincial governments providing funding.
Orders of government and private sector partners work together through the P3 model to build public infrastructure, with taxpayers owning the infrastructure but private companies designing, building, maintaining and operating the project.
According to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the P3 model is a proven alternative to building new infrastructure projects that "can be delivered sooner" and "more cost-effectively" than if orders of government managed the whole contracting and building phases.
Steve Bradshaw, union president representing Edmonton transit workers, said should the project have gone ahead without the use of the P3, the LRT line would be operational.
"Without proper oversight, we get sub-standard work and substandard building materials, and the bills keep adding up," Bradshaw said in a statement. "When will it ever stop?"
"We have been driving across the Low Level Bridge, the High Level Bridge on concrete pillars and they are perfectly safe," he added in an interview with CTV News Edmonton. "What's going on here?"
'TORTURED BUSINESS MODEL'
The city expected to save around $500 million by using the P3 model, Corbould explained Wednesday, adding that the city buys the product but doesn't design or engineer it.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president said P3 projects create conditions where competing contractors outbid each other by "low-balling" and offering "false promises."
"It's a tortured business model," Bradshaw said. "There's five or six different corporate entities involved in that."
"(It's) impossible to tell who's responsible for what," he added. "Then riders suffer from the delays and taxpayers end up footing the bill."
In the meantime, Bradshaw hopes the city adds more bus service along the Valley Line route to meet the growing demands of transit users.
"It's desperately needed," he said, "to fill out the system properly."
For the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, the LRT delay was disappointing as more businesses along the route would be further inconvenienced and impacted by construction, and all the detours and traffic disruptions it causes.
"With the rising inflation costs, the impact the construction has had to businesses along the line, and labour shortages that are ongoing, the delay of this project is deeply frustrating to our members and the broader business community," the Chamber said in a statement.
Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce said it wants the city to explore how it can better support businesses impacted by major construction projects that make it more difficult for customers to patronize their establishments.
"While it is comforting to hear that the P3 fixed price model used to build the Valley Line LRT has saved the city from taking direct fiscal impact of this delay, the indirect costs of the delay cannot be as easily quantified."
'A VERY DIFFERENT WORLD'
Bradshaw pointed to the long-standing signaling issues on the LRT expansion to NAIT that ended with the city firing that contractor.
"It took over and over and over again until the city finally said, enough, get them out of here and do it ourselves and get it done right," he said. "Ever since then, we've had it up and running."
"The mayor and city manager were there yesterday saying, well, you know this is a learning experience," he added. "When do we take the learning experience and implement it?"
Andrew Knack, councillor for Ward Nakota Isga, says the city has, learned its lessons and moved to a new project management system for the Valley Line West LRT expansion.
The second stage of the Valley Line will eventually connect Lewis Farms in west Edmonton to the downtown core, and complete the southeast leg to Mill Woods.
Knack says the southeast LRT extension was approved under an old management system that was revamped following the Metro Line expansion and Groat Road Bridge rehabilitation project delays.
"This is a very different world today, and the projects that we are building today are on a very different system than what we used to have years ago," Knack told CTV News Edmonton.
The Valley Line West is a "modified" P3 arrangement, which is "not quite the same system" as what the city has with TransEd, Knack added.
"We do have more control in that project than what we see in the Valley Line Southeast," he said. "The way we've built the contracts has more control for the city and more oversight."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Diego Romero and Jeremy Thompson
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge is once again calling for change in Hockey Canada's leadership in the wake of new allegations against the troubled sporting body.
Ukrainian troops pushed forward Monday with their offensive that has embarrassed Moscow, with Kyiv officials and foreign observers hinting at new gains in the strategic southern region of Kherson that the Kremlin wants to annex.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a plunge this weekend when he decided to throw caution to the wind and go bungee jumping just outside of the Ottawa area on Sunday.
Citing a 'significant increase' in fraudulent activity in Canada in the last two years— the majority of which in the last year has been happening online—the RCMP is calling on Canadians to be aware of scammers' tactics.
The would-be winners of almost $29,000 at a U.S. fishing tournament were disqualified on Friday, after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets.
Federal Conservatives say the Liberal dental-care and rental-housing relief legislation will only add to inflation without providing relief from the rising cost of living.
A trial that started this week in Washington, D.C., is the biggest test yet in the U.S. Justice Department's efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On trial is extremist leader Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers extremist group, and four associates.
A family doctor and other researchers are asking Canadians to share their experiences with the country's primary health-care system and what they want from it, as a way to help guide future reform.
A 30-year-old Calgary man wanted on dozens of outstanding warrants has been arrested and now faces an additional 32 charges, following an investigation spurred by tips from the public.
The Calgary Real Estate Board says home sales in the city for September were down nearly 12 per cent compared with the same month last year.
Although levels remain high, the team of researchers monitoring Saskatoon's wastewater supply has measured a drop in signs of COVID-19.
With positive identification of human remains still pending, family of missing Saskatoon woman thanks search team
The family of Megan Gallagher said Monday morning marked their 43rd trip to court since she was reported missing in September 2020. It was the first such court appearance since human remains were found during a search for the missing 30-year-old woman.
Ringo Starr and his All Starr band have cancelled the Wednesday show at SaskTel Centre after Starr contracted COVID-19.
This month SGI is cracking down on dangerous driving behaviours, including street racing and stunting.
White Butte RCMP and Crime Stoppers are asking for public assistance in their search for a robbery suspect who allegedly stole $600 worth of playing cards.
Canada’s prairie premiers and two United States governors are calling for the restoration of pre-pandemic hours at land border crossings.
Residents of Prince Edward Island said Monday they're growing exhausted, anxious and cold as thousands remained without power nine days after post-tropical storm Fiona swept through the region.
More than 20,000 Nova Scotians are still without power as restoration efforts continue 10 days after post-tropical storm Fiona.
Many Islanders are back to school or work 10 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit Prince Edward Island on Sept. 23, but thousands of Maritime Electric customers still do not have power.
Ontario education workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike if negotiations with the province continue to stall but many parents and school staff may be wondering what comes next.
Toronto man was abducted before his remains were found in a hockey bag floating in a pond, police say
A Toronto man whose remains were found floating in an Uxbridge, Ont. pond last spring was abducted from Toronto before he was murdered and his body was put in a hockey bag, police say.
A motorcyclist has been rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition following a collision on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Oakville.
The photo op for Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois at his voting station did not go as plan when an election worker blocked his photographers from getting a pic of him casting his ballot.
A woman in her 70s is in critical condition Monday after she was struck by a pick-up truck in Montreal's Ville-Emard neighbourhood.
Ottawa police say six young people are facing charges following an attack last month near a local high school, video of which was widely shared on social media.
Ontario education workers such as custodians, early childhood educators and school administration staff have voted 96.5 per cent in favour of a strike, the Canadian Union of Public Employees announced Monday.
An Ontario judge has fined the Farm Boy grocery chain $90,000 following a workplace accident last year.
Province offering $50K reward for information on missing Hagersville, Ont. woman, foul play suspected
Nearly 18 months after Amber Ellis, 33, went missing, the Government of Ontario said it will be offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.
Police have identified the victim who died following a crash involving a motorcycle and two other vehicles just outside Guelph on Friday.
The number of people with COVID-19 in Waterloo region hospitals has fallen to its lowest level in three months.
Greater Sudbury Police have a suspect in custody following an incident Monday morning at a Tim Horton's in the city's West End.
Greater Sudbury Police are hoping to find the person who was almost another victim of a fatal collision Sept. 13 at the corner of Barrydowne Road and Lasalle Boulevard.
A 33-year-old suspect from Serpent River is facing numerous charges following an incident Sunday morning north of Elliot Lake.
WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing. The Winnipeg Police Service is asking the public for any information regarding the homicide of a woman who died of severe burns.
A Manitoba man was taken to the hospital after a violent incident where he was stabbed and then clung onto the hood of the car being driven by his alleged attacker.
There is a large police presence outside of the Manitoba Legislature Monday afternoon.
Wildfire crews warn civilian drone flown over out-of-control blaze in B.C. park was 'strictly prohibited'
An out-of-control wildfire burning in a Metro Vancouver regional park led to a warning from crews that members of the public – including drone operators – should stay away.
A man who allegedly followed a woman into the lobby of her Vancouver apartment building and attacked her was arrested after bystanders intervened and "tackled him to the ground," according to police.
People in B.C. who received the monkeypox vaccine are now being offered appointments for a second shot.
The British Columbia government says inmates struggling with mental health and substance use will be supported after they leave jail by transition teams connected to all 10 of the province's correctional centres. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson says that's an increase from inmates at five facilities getting help with services like housing, health care, transportation and treatment when they are released.
A B.C. judge has awarded a former Tofino resident more than $70,000 in damages after he brought a civil lawsuit against a man who attacked his car with a 2x4 in 2018.
Environment Canada is warning of extremely limited visibility in parts of Vancouver Island on Monday due to fog. Fog advisories have been issued for West Vancouver Island and North Vancouver Island, with thick fog expected to appear early Monday afternoon.