SNC-Lavalin and construction: Calgary city councillors question Green Line officials

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SNC-Lavalin and construction: Calgary city councillors question Green Line officials
Officials with Calgary's Green Line LRT project were on hand at city hall on Tuesday to update councillors on progress. As Adam MacVicar reports, there were several questions over transparency and construction work – Jan 31, 2023

Calgary city councillors had several questions about the procurement process for the Green Line LRT project after concerns from some residents over the involvement of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin.

The questions came as part of an update to the city’s Executive Committee on Tuesday from officials with the Green Line project.

SNC-Lavalin, as part of a consortium of five other companies called CSIX, was awarded a contract last November to be the delivery partner for the LRT mega-project.

The other companies in the consortium include Aldea Services Inc., Altus Group, Mott MacDonald and Turner & Townsend.

According to project officials, CSIX will be tasked with supporting the builder of the first phase of the LRT line with commercial management, technical support, project controls, and construction management.

The Montreal-based firm announced its involvement in the Green Line in a press release last week, after the city announced the company’s involvement in November.

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Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said his office has received calls from residents with questions about the procurement process for the project.

“SNC-Lavalin is a very contentious company and so that’s what they were concerned about, how the selection process is done,” McLean told reporters. “To be clear, I share those concerns.”

The company has been involved in some political controversy in Canada in recent years.

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Last year, SNC-Lavalin was ordered to pay Quebec nearly $30 million to settle criminal bribery charges stemming from bridge work in Montreal.

In August 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was found by Canada’s ethics commissioner to have broken the Conflict of Interest Act after revelations that Trudeau improperly influenced former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer a deferred prosecution agreement in a criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.

Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti told councillors the city’s principles are transparency and fairness when selecting partners bidding on City of Calgary contracts.

Bhatti said the consortium was vetted through an independent review to determine any conflicts of interest or legal issues that would make the companies ineligible to bid on a city contract.

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“We look at a whole gambit of things from what the city policies are, what the best practices are and legally and legislatively, are they compliant with not just the requirements in the province but Canada at-large,” Bhatti told committee. “They have to go through the process and if they’re evaluated in a way where they score higher than the others, then from a fairness and transparent perspective, we have to then award the contract to them.”

Calgary’s mayor also clarified that city councillors are not involved in the selection process.

“Council did not choose them, council simply provided direction to complete this project,” Jyoti Gondek told reporters.

McLean said he was happy with the answers provided by Green Line officials.

“They committed to transparency and that’s all I’m looking for,” McLean said.

New road closures and underground work

There will be another road closure in the Beltline area near Victoria Park as underground utility relocation work continues to make way for a future LRT tunnel.

According to Green Line officials, the next major road closure will be the intersection of 11 Avenue S.E. and Olympic Way, which is expected to begin in March.

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Last year, Olympic Way and 12 Avenue S.E. was closed so crews could install new deep and shallow utility lines so the current lines can be removed in the future when tunnelling begins under the downtown core.

The Green Line tunnel is slated to run under 2 Street S.W. and Bhatti said there is preliminary work by third party providers underway across the downtown core to prepare for relocated utility lines.

“Because we’re moving stuff off of 2 Street, we not only have to put it on 1 Street and 3 Street S.W., but we have to connect it on all of these cross streets; that’s why you may see work all over the place,” Bhatti told Global News. “We’re making sure that once we’re done, there’s really nothing for shallow utilities that will remain on our alignment in the downtown piece.”

Green Line officials urged businesses impacted by construction work to get in contact with their Business Support Program team to provide feedback and get updates as the project progresses.

The utility relocation work is scheduled to be complete in 2024.

The $5.5 billion Green Line project has been divided into stages, with the first stage set to run from Shepard in the city’s southeast, under the downtown core to Eau Claire.


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