February 5, 2023

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Ledcor eyed for $26.5M non-competitive Edmonton pedway contract

Giving the contract to Ledcor means that company will build some elements, although Ledcor may subcontract other work to other companies

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Ledcor could land a $26.5-million City of Edmonton construction contract without competition for a pedway to a private development that company is building.

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City administration is recommending a sole-source, non-competitive contract for the publicly funded pedway from Churchill LRT station to Station Lands, a private multi-tower residential development near the Epcor tower. Building the 103A Avenue pedway was part of a deal between the city and Qualico.

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Normally, city contracts over $200,000 must be competitive. Sole-source contracts of at least $1 million need city council’s approval.

Despite not following the city’s regular policies, city staff argue that hiring Ledcor will reduce construction costs because Qualico has already hired Ledcor for building the development.

“Ledcor’s existing presence on the Station Lands minimizes multiple mobilization efforts, increases resource allocation flexibility, provides an opportunity to balance excavation/fill material, and eliminates interface risks with other contractors and facilities,” the report heading to executive committee Jan. 18. states.

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“This would also allow a single contractor to have prime contractor responsibility for the multiple overlapping projects on the site. Coordination and integration risks are reduced as one contractor will be responsible for scheduling and coordinating work on several adjacent project
sites while also being responsible for connecting to existing infrastructure.”

Giving the contract to Ledcor means that company will build some elements, although Ledcor may subcontract other work to other companies.

The city confirmed Qualico was required to start the first construction phase before the pedway would be built, but there’s no required timeline for when the others will come to fruition. Construction on Phase Two, with two residential towers housing more than 600 units, began in September 2022. At full build-out, the company says there will be 5,000 new residents and workers within the district.

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Other details of the construction agreement aren’t being made public.

Some councillors pushed back on pedway

City council gave the pedway the go-ahead using funds from the Downtown Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) last year after some councillors pushed back on the idea.

At the time, Ward O-day’min Coun. Anne Stevenson argued that the public dollars should be used for something that benefits more members of the community, that pedways will reduce the level of activity on the street level, and that the proportion of private investment related to the public investment is much lower than others the city has made.

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While Stevenson said she’s glad more residential development is coming Downtown, she still doesn’t support the pedway.

“I agree that there are limited (landowners who benefit) … there’s a fairness and equity question there,” she said Tuesday. “More importantly for me, I think that pedways really detract from the vibrancy of our downtown streets. We have in our policies that we don’t support additional pedways and that’s a policy that I feel committed to.”

The sole-source contract is another matter though, Stevenson said. She thinks city staff have made good arguments — it would effectively be one construction site with multiple, concurrent projects — although she has some concerns.

“I do think the report made a compelling argument around some of the exceptional circumstances that lend themselves to a sole source in this case,” she said.

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“I still have some questions, just in terms of competitive pricing and implications for the trade agreements, but again I think they’ve put forward a good argument and I can follow the logic about why city staff are making this recommendation.”

Stevenson is concerned about the city providing a significant private subsidy when they don’t have certainty around Qualico completing the later phases of the development.

Qualico did not answer Postmedia’s questions about why the city should pay for the pedway and what direct benefits the public will receive. Ledcor did not respond to a request for comment.

[email protected]

@laurby

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