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CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts is calling on the City of Edmonton to fight efforts by the Harper Government to force a privately run light rail transit (LRT) to be built in the city.

Edmonton council recently voted behind closed doors to allow a private, for-profit corporation to run the new Millwoods LRT line.

Roberts pointed to recent studies in Ontario which show these kinds of financial arrangements end up costing taxpayers an average of 16 per cent more per project.

A privately run line will cost more, and it will reduce the level of accountability voters have over the project,” said Roberts. “Before a single shovel hits the ground, Council is already deciding things behind closed doors. Imagine how hard it will be to get access to information after the money is spent.”

Roberts called on the council to work with other cities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to fight back against the Harper government for forcing municipalities to choose between private operations and not getting federal infrastructure funding.

Edmonton Council is giving up without a whimper,” said Roberts. “Instead, the Mayor and Council should be raising hell about what the Harper government is up to. 

It’s bad enough they underfund cities, now they are forcing them into contracts that will only tighten the purse strings further.”

CUPE Local 30 President Mike Scott supported Roberts’ call. “The City of Edmonton is in the business of providing services. It is not the job of the City to turn its services over to private interests who want to make a profit” said Scott. “Edmonton needs safe, affordable transportation in our communities.  Experience shows that confusing, secret back room deals only add costs and reduce service levels and accountability.”