Two groups of companies have been shortlisted to help build phase one of Calgary’s Green Line LRT, the city of Calgary announced Friday.
Bow Transit Connectors and City Link Partners were chosen to move onto the request for proposal (RFP) process, where they will compete to become development partners of the project.
CEO of the Green Line project, Darshpreet Bhatti, said the announcement is a “very big milestone” for the project.
Phase one will build the 18-kilometre stretch of the Green Line, which the city said is the most technically complex section of the new LRT line. This section will support future expansion to the north and south, including a tunnel under the downtown core.
“There’s only a handful of entities out there that can manage a project of this scale,” Bhatti told Global News.
“So for us to have eight of them on two teams, to me is a very strong response from the market and very positive one; I don’t think I could have asked for a different result.”
This comes after “extensive competition” from various companies that bid to help develop the project as part of the city’s request for qualifications process.
The city said submissions were evaluated for technical capabilities, approach, experience and financial capability by an external fairness monitor.
“Green Line is confidently moving forward with Bow Transit Connectors and City Link Partners, two very strong proponent teams,” Green Line board chair Don Fairbairn said in a statement.
“With extensive competition due to record investment in global transit, to have attracted their collective expertise is a great endorsement of the project.”
None of the companies between either consortium is local, which has Calgary’s construction industry hoping for more local involvement in the project.
The Calgary Construction Association said it has raised concerns for months about “the disproportionate involvement and influence of foreign consortiums,” and the “absence” of Calgary and Alberta-based builders from the project.
“Our hope remains that the successful proponent ensures that local businesses, contractors and sub-contractors are well utilized,” Calgary Construction Association president Bill Black said in a statement to Global News.
“We call on the City of Calgary to exercise its influence as the project owner in ensuring that these local businesses are protected throughout the construction and build-out of this vital phase.”
According to Bhatti, local contractors will be put in touch with the developer through an open house once the contract for the project is awarded.
“The intent is to introduce these teams to the local market,” Bhatti said. “The smaller companies can either offer the services or the products that they have and have the opportunity to be part of the project. So we can facilitate all of that, and we will do that.”
The RFP will be released by the end of this Q3 this year and one of the companies will be selected to become a development partner in early 2023.
The 12-month development phase of the project will be launched soon after, which will allow for collaboration, design progression and a better understanding of risks and costs.
“We want to make sure that whatever is built is built to meet the types of transportation standards we want, but secondly, we want to build it within the budget,” Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said. “The disruptions we’ll be looking at to endure for a period there, hopefully the developers we’re working with will help be able to mitigate the concerns.”
Last week, Green Line officials were questioned by city councillors on rising costs and plans to mitigate the impact of inflation on the project.
Local advocacy group LRT on the Green said Friday’s announcement signals momentum on the project and urged city council to help keep up that momentum.
“The more we delay or the more of this nuanced dialog that comes from city council that indicates there might be a delay or indicates there might be a stoppage, the more people lose confidence in both council’s ability to get this done and in the project,” LRT on the Green vice-president Sabrina Grover said. “That’s not what we want. We want to get it done.”
“This is a very strong step for Green Line and speaks to the work done by the city to collaborate with industry to drive interest and investment,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in a statement.