‘Adversarial relationship’ damaged Ottawa LRT P3

The final report of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Commission has found “persistent failures in leadership, partnership and communications” on the project.

The Commissioner, the Honourable Justice William Hourigan, has outlined in detail the serious failings within the relationship between the City of Ottawa and Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the private sector consortium delivering the scheme under the P3 arrangement.

He concluded that both parties “lost sight of the public interest during the project”, and developed an “adversarial relationship” in which RTG “knowingly gave the city inaccurate information about when they would finish building the LRT”, while the authority “rushed the LRT system into service before it was ready”.

Justice Hourigan also warned that governments and public procurement agencies “should examine whether to use a P3 or another model when building complex infrastructure projects”.

However, in responding to the report, the The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships (CCPP) strongly defended the use of the P3 model, highlighting that the investigation showed the importance of partnership as part of a P3 arrangement.

The CCPPP also pointed to the finding by Justice Hourigan that the city saved more than $100m after a sinkhole unexpectedly opened up on Rideau Street, specifically because of the P3 agreement’s transfer of geotechnical risk to RTG.

“As part of our ongoing discussions on how best to refine the P3 model, our members - both government and private sector - will carefully examine the inquiry’s more than 100 recommendations over the coming weeks and months to reinforce the core belief that ‘government and private-sector entities must act in a manner that furthers the broader public interest’,” concluded CCPPP president and chief executive, Lisa Mitchell.

To read the full report, click here.