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UCP donors awarded $18M construction contract

Last week, the Alberta government announced that they’d selected the vendor to construction the Lethbridge recovery community.

I wrote about this project back in July 2020, shortly after the government announced that Lethbridge would be one of several locations to get a recovery community.

Recovery communities generally focus on holistic lifestyle changes, rather than, say, abstinence only. Participants move through the treatment process at their pace with the help of clinical and peer interventions.

The original announcement claimed that the government would spend up to $5 million on capital funding to build the recovery community. However, last week’s announcement said that the project will now cost nearly $18 million, more than 3 times the original price.

The more recent announcement also identified the firm that will construct the facility. Not only that, but they went out of their way to let the reader know twice that the vendor was selected by a public and competitive process:

The company was selected through a public and competitive request for proposal process.

The successful construction vendor [was] selected through a standard government request for proposal process.

It’s unusual for this to be highlighted more than once, so it made me curious about this vendor.

The government chose Synergy Projects Ltd, which is owned by Synergy Group of Companies, based in Edmonton.

Dennis Mozak is the founder and CEO of Synergy Group of Companies. In 2018, he donated $4,000 to the United Conservative Party. He also donated $4,000 to the party during the 2019 provincial election. The following year, in 2020, he donated $1,150 to the UCP. Finally, last year, he donated $1,125.

That’s a total of $10,400.

Tim Varughese, who serves as president of Synergy Group of Companies, also donated to the UCP. He donated $862.55 to Kaycee Madu’s 2019 election campaign. Madu was the UCP candidate for the Edmonton South West riding and currently sits as the minister of labour and immigration. The following year, Varughese donated $1,000 to the UCP.

When you add that to Mozak’s donations, that’s a combined total of $12,262.55 that Synergy’s executives have donated to the UCP.

And that’s not counting donations that the two executives provided to the party’s predecessors, the PCs and the Wildrose.

But, as the announcement indicated, this was all on the up and up. The fact that Synergy has contributed to UCP finances indirectly through its executives probably has nothing to do with their being awarded the project or that the cost of the project has now more than tripled.

It was a “public”, “competitive”, and “standard process”.

Oh, and Synergy was also awarded a $20 million contract last November to build a similar facility in Red Deer.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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