By Andrea Sands, Edmonton JournalEDMONTON—City councillors should order the release of details blanked out in the city’s request for proposals to build Edmonton’s southeast LRT line, say community groups that now hope a freedom of information request will expose the withheld material.
Representatives from the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Edmonton Ski Club, the Connors Hill community, the Cloverdale Community League, the Riverdale Community League, and Public Interest Alberta said during a news conference Thursday morning the city should release all the documents in its request for proposals for the project.
“It’s a $1.8-billion project that will impact the city of Edmonton for the next 35 years, so we have to get this right,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, president of the Riverdale Community League and executive director of Public Interest Alberta.
“We’re hoping that city council takes a lead on this. We know in our conversations that many city councillors themselves feel that they could be much more open and transparent, but the people who they’ve put in charge of running this process have clearly said that the citizens of Edmonton do not have the right to access this information. We beg to differ.”
Public Interest Alberta filed a freedom of information request Thursday with the City of Edmonton to have the documents released, Moore-Kilgannon said.
A similar request for information about a contract for the Canada Line rapid-transit project in Vancouver was granted in 2009 by B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner.
Community groups in Edmonton have many questions about how the southeast LRT project will affect park space, traffic, neighbourhoods, businesses and more, and had hoped the request for proposals would provide some answers. Groups can submit questions about the project to the city until Saturday.
More than 100 pages of the 278-page legal document spelling out expectations for companies bidding on the project were redacted before being posted online in October. A 1,500-page project agreement containing detailed engineering diagrams was also withheld.
The LRT line between downtown and Mill Woods will be built and operated by a private company through a public-private partnership, or P3.
Public Interest Alberta hopes the documents will be released before companies submit their proposals next July, Moore-Kilgannon said.
City officials have said they withheld details following recommendations from advisers who went through the P3 process before and more information will be made public after the final contract is signed.