Fraser Transportation Group chosen as preferred bidder for South Fraser Perimeter Road, surprising many.

The  Ministry of Transportation  issued a long-awaited press release Friday- late,late Friday –  surprising many industry insiders by announcing  that the Fraser Transportation Group  has been chosen as the preferred bidder and will proceed to the final stage of the procurement process for the South Fraser Perimeter Road project. 

I say surprising because many industry insiders thought SNC Lavelin of the Riverway Partnership were shoe-ins following the Port Mann bidding debacle that awarded that project to Kiewit-Flatiron, despite their failure to secure financing as required. Had the MOT deferred to the next best bid when that occurred, SNC would have been building the Port Mann right now, instead of Kiewit.  Rumour also had it that SNC had been considering legal recourse because of this, but decided against such action so as not to be blacklisted by the province on other projects- ( See Tercon vs. MOT/Province of BC, to find out what happens to contractors who complain too loudly) 

However, there was something else very surprising that I notice in the  SFPR Press Release

VICTORIA – Fraser Transportation Group has been selected to proceed to the next stage of procurement as the preferred proponent for delivery of the next phase of the South Fraser Perimeter Road project. This stage involves detailed negotiations for finalizing a contract. 

 Fraser Transportation Group includes ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Ledcor Industrial/Mining Group Ltd. as equity partners, and Dragados Canada, Inc, Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as the members of the design-build contractor. 

There appears to have been a significant change in the make-up of the proponents in the group itself, because in the announcement of the three qualified short-listed bidders,   The Fraser Transportation Group looked like this: 

Fraser Transportation Group –  includes Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras, S.A. of Spain and Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas as equity partners and Dragados S.A. as the lead design build contractor. 

Wow. So… Am I right to ask the question : What the heck happened to that pre-qualified bidding group? Iridium( From Spain) and Zachry ( of Texas) are now gone as the equity partners, replaced by ACS infrastructure Canada, and Ledcor Industrial /Mining Group Ltd.  That is a complete change from the “Pre-qualified bidders” listed in the original announcement. 

Not only that, Dragados Canada  were listed as the lead design/build contractor in the original announcement, which now lists Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as part of the design-build team. 

What happened to the original bidding team? Why the complete change in equity partners? No money? Companies backed out?  Call me a cynic, but I would say that Jane Shackell, the ” fairness  reviewer”  appointed to oversee and monitor the procurement process, has her hands full on this one. One of the most popular blog series I’ve ever written covered the near decade long Tercon vs. BC/MOT lawsuit, in which  a change to the makeup of a ” pre-qualified” bidder during the procurement process, ultimately led to a supreme court win for the contractor. In Tercon vs. the MOT/Province of BC, an unqualified contractor was added  on as a concealed partner with an already qualified bidder, and  this change was subsequently concealed by MOT staff  at many different levels to avoid complaints from  the other qualified bidders who may have been rightly awarded the MOT job. Full details are in this post, which contains links to the other two parts of the series. 

One would certainly hope the province has not overstepped in this case, because this seems to be a significant change to the makeup of the preferred bidder. (Not that I mind seeing smaller local companies doing work, rather than Kiewit and SNC Lavelin- so long as the bidding process was fair, transparent and honest ) 

 Also of extreme importance in this press release is the notation that the SFPR is now slated for completion in 2013,  which is a full year behind the original completion date 2012. I stand by my source that the project has been scaled back with significant scope changes and that can only mean one thing. Money. money. money… ( out of interest, click HERE to see political donations by LEDCOR)

While I am on the subject of money, it certainly would seem that Kiewit, the main contractors on the Sea to Sky highway and of course, the Port Mann bridge…. have a hell of a lot of extra money to toss around on campaign contributions -and the timing of them is  certainly interesting, to say the least. 

S-A1-A – Your Search Criteria
Contributor Name Date From Date To Party
kiewit      (ALL)
  S-A1-A – Your Search Results
  Total Contribution For This Search: $81,575.00 
Records 1-13 of 13 
Contributor Name Date Amount Party Class Principal Officer 1 Principal Officer 2
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2008/12/03 $1,875.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2006/09/29 $3,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2007/04/24 $1,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT 2009/04/02 $2,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 1

Note the rather obese contribution to the BC Liberals mere days after the last election….and in the rest of 2009. Now, call me speculative, but if I were a  contractor who had just been chosen to build the Port Mann Bridge, even after my financing fell through,( see link above on Kiewit)  and the province went to a great extent to give me that contract, even changing the project from a P3 to a taxpayers fully funded one to do so….. well, I think I would be really appreciative too.  Not sure those contributions paid off for the SFPR bid though…lol. 

It brings me back full circle to the topic of campaign contributions and conflict of interest which we have been talking about on and off over the past bit. Lets even toss in  how they relate to collusion and corruption. 

 While it is certainly not illegal for any one person,  or any company to donate to one political party or another, I find it remarkable that anybody could say these donations, especially such sizable ones such as Kiewit’s, have no bearing or influence, nor do they represent any conflicts in the various situations that invariably pop up along the way. 

Poppycock.  Do you honestly think a $50 grand donation from Kiewit doesn’t help to grease the wheels along the way? Keep them at the top of the Special Donors list? Of course it does. To think anything else is to be as naive as a new-born babe. 

Just for fun, because yeah, I’m kind of geeky that way, I did a bit of an update to a previous list of large donors to the BC Liberals, from their 2007 reported ones. Donors that also seem to get the lucrative government contracts along the way, donors who have boards of directors padded with ex-MLA’s and political movers and shakers. 

Donors that know how business works in BC. 

* 2009 donation amounts listed only- click on provided link to see past donation history. 

Teck Cominco and subsiduaries:  $150,800.00 

Goldcorp: $88,500.00 

Encana : $118,000.00 

Telus : $68,123.52 

Aquilini Group : $ 80,700.00 

Brookfield Asset Management/ Brookfield Timber Management : $ 60, 000.00 ( note Richard Legault and Barry Blattman, whose names seem to come up in everything Liberal related. 

Timberwest: $ 60,988 

West Fraser: $ 108,089 

Catalyst: $ 24, 500.00  ( guess they couldn’t have been doing too poorly if they could still afford donations to the Liberals…  

Jim Pattison Group and Great Pacific Investments: $10,500.oo ( down from previous years)   

Well, that’s all folks. If you are an average person like me, this all stinks to high heaven. Smaller companies who can’t , or won’t play the game are getting left out in the cold time and time again.  Clearly, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know -and how much you donate to them. Think about that next time you are driving over the Port Mann bridge…

24 thoughts on “Fraser Transportation Group chosen as preferred bidder for South Fraser Perimeter Road, surprising many.

  1. Not sure if you mean ” Think you are mistaken” or Tyam construction, Bernadette?! lol, but here is a link to their contributions:

    Let me add in here, though- since I see I did not above – that I am not a supporter of this proposed road whatsoever. I think its overkill and I suspect the government really jumped the gun on this and is trying to recover.

    When I mentioned above that it was nice to see local small companies getting work, it is strictly in reference to the fact that so many small contractors have been struggling in this economic climate where the province tends towards using large, offshore, American or out of province conglomerates that leave nothing for keeping BC money in BC. I’ve been working on and investigating the bidding process in BC with the government, and it’s shocking to see how locals are shut out , generally speaking.

    Just making myself clear.


  2. I mean what kind of contributions has Tyam been making to the Liberal party. They have been doing lots of pre-construction site preparation work prior to awarded contracts on the South Fraser Freeway, as well they worked on the Canada line, and from what I can tell the power Tsawwassen / Delta power lines projects. They seem to turn up like a bad penny on these projects.
    I guess the comments about all the money being spent on this going out of province and out of country had had some impact or maybe the local smaller companies are the only ones desparate enough to take on the risks of a project that so many local people are opposed to and are fighting every step of the way.
    Really curious about the variations in the plans and what the final bid amount was or is that still to be announced.
    Also thanks for the clarification (although I suspected as much) about where you stand, which is good to see on the side of the angels, but certainly hope the province has overstepped, because if it delays things even further, that is a good thing.
    Fraser River Pile and Dredge is another company already on the project, bringing up the silt from the bottom of the Fraser for preload and in the process causing environmental damage to at least one of the salmon bearing streams impacted by this Freeway.


  3. Thank you for yet another fine example of how the MOT really works. There is no fairness in the procurement process, never has been and likely never will be unless the smaller contracters band together with the support of someone like yourself, to tell the stories that are out there.

    I nearly spit my coffee out to see the gross donations from Kiewit to the Liberals. Business’s like mine can’t compete with that, we just don’t have pockets that deep.

    Going back through some of your stories, and the most recent one regarding SFPR bid rumours, I can’t help but wonder if that had an impact on who MOT ultimately chose, because we heard the same as you, that it was going to go to SNC.

    When will there be an inquirey into the practices of that ministry? How do we get that done?


  4. Well done Laila, another arrow right in the bull’s eye!

    Curious to know your stats on this one after today…I heard about your post the second I stepped into the office this morning and for all intents and purposes, it would seem you’ve caused a tsunami in the industry.

    Anonymous, I’m with you on that inquiry. It’s long past due and I personally know a dozen industry people who would come forward in that instance.


  5. Sick to see the large resource companies at the top of the list. Encana seems to send a lot over to the libs, wonder what that buys them.

    I think it’s a farce for the MOT to even try to fake impartiality in the face of such donations. This is the same thing as the special prosecutors, it’s not ethical or right.


  6. This issue needs a lot more exposure than its getting. The issue of Highway Construction doesn’t grab the attention of the average individual as much as school closures or health shortages does. It should. There are only so many tax dollars available and when they are misappropriated it is everyone’s concern. You’ve got to yell louder Laila. Once again a credible piece, but without sufficient exposure. Maybe you need to get that guy Palmer to help you again. (How’d I know that would get you?)


  7. I think Kiewit and sons are also doing at least two of the IPP constructions – I can’t find the websire at present, but distinctly remember the name.

    It seems that lotsa donations to the BC Liberals = lotsa work

    If that ain’t corruption – I don’t know what is.

    “RECALL IN THE FALL” everyone invited 🙂

    Maybe someone else with a better memory than mine can find the list of IPP construction contractors.



  8. The reason the American and Spanish firms were tossed is because Ledcor and ACS could do the same job for less cost. What you should be asking is ‘Why weren’t they in the initial bid?’ Dig a little deeper on the Texas firm in particular…

    Otherwise, great work!


  9. Bernadette, thanks for your commentary, as usual, very pertinant to the issue here. I’ve been busy all morning with emails and calls relating to this story and hope to have more to come soon.

    Mary, thank you for the kind words – anyone looking for the latest and best on everything Basi-Virk must click on her link to the side and read all- daily. In particular the comments section which provide a wealth of information from various sources.

    Anonymous, Sorry to make you gag on your coffee, but what can I say? The facts speak for themselves and some dedication and research will bring the rest.

    I’m curious too, about how SNC and Kiewit were passed over. More to come later.

    Adam, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m beginning to think the MOT and road construction industry is one where you bring your own brown paper bag, if you know what I mean!

    There can be no impartiality when donations of this size are being made before, during and after contract negotiations in the procurement process.

    I can not stress enough, that in my opinion, these donations are blatant conflicts to an impartial, and untainted bidding process. So why is it allowed to continue? Hell, back east they have inquiries for far less in parliment, when two people are seen having dinner together!! And yet here in BC, we see these kind of donations being made from companies that are being awarded very lucrative contracts… and no one seems to bat an eyelash.

    Personally, I’ve had enough, and heard enough, to not stop until this nonsense does. I’m not going away anytime soon,because someone needs to expose all of this corruption.

    John, I hear you, but the way Vaughn and Co. defend the libs, I can’t see that happening anytime soon. Don’t worry, I may not get the numbers the Sun and Province do, but I do pretty damn good. Rest assured the MOT, the Feds, and pretty much every contractor and company involved in the road construction industry has been reading this, and more, since before dawn our time this morning. But yes, it would be great to see this story splashed right out there.


    You are dead on and I have actually blogged about Kiewit’s involvement in some less than stellar environmental infractions in the past with the Cloudworks IPP.

    Kiewit is also the main lead in the Toba Inlet Plutonic Run of the River project, some interesting photos to be viewed of that project here :

    Another great link that you should check out that cross index’s Kiewit from their road construction biz to their IPP one( and where many of the same companies named here also come up in relation to IPP work and Liberal campaign contributions) is this one fron the Tyee, in particular, read the comments!!

    Kiewit has their hands in a lot of different Liberal pies in this province. Time to take a hard look at why, and who knows? CKNW just popped by to visit the site, so watch( listen) for this story on the station, or online. Global was by earlier this morning, and someone from CBC visits regularly every evening.


  10. Don’t feel bad about SNC Lavalin, they will get th Evergreen Line SkyTrain action and the Broadway SkyTrain subway.

    SNC Lavalin and Bombardier Inc. are so intertwined with the SkyTrain light-metro, that they are guaranteed work is SkyTrain is built.


  11. Zwiesystem, I never feel bad about SNC not getting a contract – there is still a lot to be told wrt that company. I always wondered why it is that the BC government seems to have their biggest contracts with companies that have reputations marred by scandal – albeit not locally, but speaks to the ethics and ideals of the corporate mantra held by all. I’ve blogged a couple of times about Kiewits American troubles, which have not been small, nor without consequence.

    A little on SNC’s subsidiaries :

    Ron, thank you for those links. Good reading for all.

    My sources are confirming details with regards to the Kiewit/SNC angle, but I prefer not to spill beans on the rest of this story yet.

    I do find it interesting that I have seen little of this in the large press locally, although it seems to have made every trade publication, business journal and international media – with exception of my blog, and I found an article on the Surrey Leader site tonight, that appears to have been updated yesterday:


    Ledcor was not previously listed in the Fraser Transportation Group and has replaced former equity partner Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas.

    Last year, the province gave up on a struggling financing partner for the $3.3-billion Port Mann/Highway 1 expansion project and opted instead to directly borrow all the money.

    Ministry officials would not say why the equity partners in the perimeter road have now been changed.

    “For internal reasons they needed to amend the makeup of their consortium,” ministry spokesman Dave Crebo said.

    The planned South Fraser Perimeter Road has been under fire from opponents because it means bulldozing homes, carving through sensitive ecosystems and paving over farmland.

    Critics have also argued the road is now unnecessary because port activity is unlikely to reach the optimistic forecasts on which the project was based.

    The government maintains the road will improve trade, reduce east-west travel times and take truck traffic off of local roads.

    About $300 million of the work is being directly financed and led by the provincial government.

    The project is now 30 per cent complete.

    Crebo said the northeastern section from 176 Street to the Pattullo Bridge is slated to be finished by the end of 2012, with the southwestern leg to Deltaport not expected to be finished until the second half of 2013.

    NDP North Delta MLA Guy Gentner said the changing partners and delays appear to be signs of trouble with the procurement.

    “It seems to me they’re making this up as they go along,” said Gentner, who noted the province has opted to preload at taxpayers’ expense and risk the road sections where the underlying ground is considered most unstable.

    “I think it’s going to cost us a whole lot more money all-in than what they’re telling us.”

    Yes, there is a hell of a lot more to this story…

    ” Internal reasons”.. indeed.


  12. Just noted a furious buzz of activity on this post today, in fact, foreign affairs seems to be very interested, as well all the parties in question.

    Anyone have any news or information I should know about?


  13. You are to be congratulated for the tremendous work you have been putting into dismantling the corruption in the Ministry of Transportation.Your fine grasp of the methods and issues in public procurement is astounding for a layperson!

    Long have the local contractors in this province been waiting for an end to continual,favoured granting of bids to foreign and offshore companies and consortiums, many of which has less than stellar backgrounds with regards to ethical operation.

    My hope is that your work uncovers, or has uncovered, enough to launch an investigation like the one that occurred in Ontario where police raided the governments provincial ministry office.

    Keep up the good work, and we will keep your back covered.


  14. Wow… sorry anonymous, didn’t mean to ignore you, but I didn’t see your comment until right now ! There has been a lot of activity on this post ths afternoon,which just caught my attention.

    All I can say is, thank you for your kind words,and I appreciate your encouragement.


  15. This just in

    Acs infrastructure, part of the Fraser Transportation Group, continues its worldwide aquisitions spree in a hostile takeover with Hochtief. Why is this interesting? They have been buying up competitors all over the world for some time, which some say will allow them to corner the markets based on owning controlling shares in all of them. The little contractor doesn’t have a chance against any of these big guys with the way our government does bids now.


  16. Good research….interesting, David Lede, also, donated to Abbotsford Canucks
    Place……..and centre is named after lede.
    Abbotsford has several Clark/Michael DeJong supporters, inc. Dave Holmberg,
    DeJong’s past campaign ………lots of funding coming to Abbotsford..hmm

    The Province kicked in 1.5 mil for Abbotsford Canuck’s Pl. & 2.5 mil for Abbotsford


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