Redford government spent upwards of $1 million on roadside signs in 2013

Thursday, January 02, 2014

EDMONTON – The Alberta government spent more than $1 million on roadside signs in 2013, many of them branded with the province’s “Building Alberta” slogan, internal documents show.

Premier Alison Redford’s government spent at least $1,043,183 on 293 signs last year, according to the documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation under freedom of information laws and released Thursday. The expense marked a significant increase over the two previous years, and the taxpayers organization says the documents show the cost has been steadily increasing.

Included in last year’s $1-million total are 257 Building Alberta signs – including 56 flood recovery signs – at roughly $3,380 each, and 38 Greening Alberta signs at a cost of roughly $4,805 each. Another eight signs classified under the label Project Limit came with a total price tag of $40,100.

The amount spent on the roadside placards in 2013 increased significantly over 2012, when the government spent nearly $219,000 on 73 signs, the majority of which were branded with the Building Alberta slogan.

The most expensive Building Alberta signs were also purchased in 2012, at $8,000 a pop.

In 2011, the government spent even less, shelling out $33,364 on 16 Building Alberta signs – roughly $2,085 each.

The documents do not reveal which company, or companies, provide the signs. The installation costs of the signs are also not included in the documents.

The Building Alberta signs have provided much fodder to opposition critics, who say they are branded with Progressive-Conservative party colours and Redford’s name to advertise using government dollars.

In a news release, Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, called the signs “wasteful.”

“These signs are not innocent, bureaucratic bulletins,” Fildebrandt said. “They are partisan propaganda with Premier Redford’s name emblazoned on them.”

In early December, Redford dismissed criticism that her office had ordered the signs be erected on flood-affected sites even if projects weren’t yet tendered.

“Putting up these signs shows (the) commitment that we have as a government to the Building Alberta plan and the Rebuilding Alberta plan,” she said at the time. “That is hope.”

The criticism was the result of a leaked email from the premier’s office advising three ministers and their press secretaries to get signs up in a two-week period.

“The premier would like to ensure that Building Alberta signage is up and in front of every flood-affected road, bridge, school, etc., literally everything on our infrastructure list to ensure that folks know that we are going to be rebuilding,” says the email from Redford’s director of political operations, Darren Cunningham. “I don’t care if an RFP (Request for Proposal) is ready or not, we need a very visible commitment that the government is rebuilding.”

More to come …

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