City council to consider revised motion on SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier's links with SkyTrain

Mar 27 2019, 3:50 pm

A motion to review SNC-Lavalin’s relationship with the City of Vancouver, particularly SkyTrain, will be deliberated in city council next week.

The document has undergone heavy revisions by city staff to remove the original motion’s numerous false assertions, including the highly erroneous idea that SkyTrain is a proprietary technology to SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier.

Those assertions were sharply rebuked by both TransLink and the BC Ministry of Transportation earlier this month.

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NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick’s revised motion seeks to have city staff report back to council on the findings of a concurrent TransLink report being made to the Mayors’ Council this spring on any proprietary rights or bidding advantages SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier have for the coming Broadway Extension of the Millennium Line.

She requests that any further decisions by city council on the SkyTrain extension should consider a number of factors, including how SNC-Lavalin’s criminal charges for corruption and the World Bank’s audit of Bombardier for allegations of corruption could affect how SkyTrain is used for an extension to Arbutus Street and eventually UBC, even if the technology is not proprietary to either of the companies.

“A criminal conviction against SNC-Lavalin could result in them not being allowed to bid on either the phase 1 Millennium Line extension Broadway subway from VCC to Arbutus or the phase 2 extension from Arbutus to UBC,” wrote Hardwick.

In her motion, she asserts city council’s official approval earlier this year of a seamless SkyTrain extension between Arbutus Street and UBC was “rushed in consideration of potential funding in the federal budget,” although possible funding commitments are not anticipated until later in the year when the federal election nears.

While the original motion falsely described SkyTrain as a proprietary technology with technical patents owned by Bombardier and the engineering patents owned by SNC-Lavalin, the revised motion accurately explains SkyTrain is the name of Metro Vancouver’s backbone rail transit system.

“SkyTrain is TransLink’s name for the Vancouver region’s rail system which has two main types of technology, the Canada Line that is conventional and the Expo and Millennium Lines that are unconventional,” reads Hardwick’s revised motion.

“The unconventional Millennium Line technology would apply to the proposed extension to UBC, of which SNC Lavalin (track and electrics) and Bombardier (cars) partnered to build the SkyTrain Millennium Line.”

The provincial government owns the SkyTrain system and allocates the responsibility of operation and oversight to TransLink.

As it is the system’s owner, the provincial government is also leading the charge with overseeing the construction process of the Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street, just as it did for the Evergreen Extension earlier in the decade.

The procurement process for the $2.83-billion, six-km-long, six-station project was launched in February, and the deadline for the first stage of bidding — the request for qualifications (RFQ) — is due in April.

After the RFQ, up to three respondent teams will be selected to participate in the upcoming phase of the competitive selection process, which will involve the submission of a detailed design and plan for the request for proposal (RFP) stage.

The provincial government is aiming to select a contractor in April 2020 to allow for construction to begin later that year for a 2025 opening.

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