Blog | September 12, 2013

By Gordan Kent, Edmonton JournalA coalition of union and interest groups has launched a civic election campaign against plans to use a public-private partnership (P3) to build the southeast LRT line.“We just think this is one of the most important municipal election issues,” Bill Moore-Kilgannon of Public Interest Alberta said Thursday.“We want people who are willing to look deeper at the pros and cons of P3s, and in particular make sure they don’t make these decisions in private.”The OurLRT Coalition is spending $70,000 on the fight, which includes ads on the LRT system and handing out 10,000 slips of paper resembling ETS transfers with the slogan “Don’t transfer our LRT.”They’re also sending a survey to all candidates in the Oct. 21 election asking for their position on the southeast LRT P3, as well as whether they support privatizing other municipal services.The results will be distributed after Oct. 7.The federal government has promised the city $250 million to help pay for the project as a P3 designed, built, financed, maintained and operated by a private consortium.While most details of the proposal have been kept private, councillors say this is necessary to avoid releasing financial information that could hurt negotiations with companies that bid.Funding for the $1.8-billion line to Mill Woods from downtown is still short $515 million, which has likely pushed back the start of construction for a year to 2016.Moore-Kilgannon said the city should turn down the P3 money and apply for the entire $400 million it hopes to receive from the federal government under an infrastructure program being unveiled next year.Stu Litwinowich, president of Amalgamated Transit Union local 569, said one reason for fighting P3s is to stop the city from privatizing other operations.Although he said it’s possible a consortium would hire Edmonton Transit to run the low-floor LRT, or that his union would organize workers for another operator, he’s worried about the impact on his members.“Those are our jobs. We have been delivering this service safely and securely for 102 years.”gkent@edmontonjournal.comRead the article at the Edmonton Journal