CDN-NDG approves $22 million snow removal contract
Published Monday, September 30, 2013 5:15PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 1, 2013 5:28PM EDT
MONTREAL -- A five-year snow removal contract awarded in the Cote-des-Neiges-NDG borough has Projet Montreal up in arms.
Borough councillors voted at a meeting Monday night to offer $22 million over five years to CMS Entrepreneurs Generaux, weeks before a municipal election.
“Our concern is that this decision is being made at the last minute at the last borough council in the middle of the election campaign. This not normal,” said Projet Montreal borough mayor candidate Michael Simkin.
The party also takes issue with the contract’s price tag.
“[It's] up from $3.5 to $4.5 million per year, representing 5 – now up to 6 per cent - of the total budget of the borough,” said Projet Montreal councillor Peter McQueen.
"Obviously I'm going to be concerned," he said. "I'm going to look at this thing very closely. It's not just some little contract that I'm picking away at -- no, this is the biggest contract our borough gives, and a million dollars more a year is significant."
Projet Montreal said it wants councillors to vote against the contract. They’re also offering some solutions.
“(We suggest an) extension of the existing contract or working with the blue collars workers for an immediate period of time until we can put through a call for tenders,” said Simkin.
Reports suggested the company hired for the contract was part of an investigation by the Surete du Quebec's Operation Hammer, involving a contract given to CMS Entrepreneurs Generaux by the borough to oversee the operations of the St-Pierre snow dump. No charges were ever laid; it ended up being a dispute over how many hours the company workers logged.
Projet Montreal said it has no issue with the company, but has other concerns.
“It has its certificate from the AMF, but there were 16 companies that did look at the call for tenders. Only two made submissions. This is an important thing that is cause for concern,” said Simkin.
Borough Mayor Lionel Perez said Projet Montreal's position is just political posturing, and that the timing of the contract has nothing to do with an election.
“It is the end of the contract. We have to sign a contract. We have to be responsible. To sign a one-year contract would be prohibitively expensive and irresponsible,” he said, adding that while costs have increased, the contract is still less expensive compared to elsewhere.
“At the cost of per linear meter, our cost is less expensive than the one in Rosemont-Petite-Patrie, which Projet Montreal accepted – a seven-year contract, by the way – and also cheaper than the Plateau, Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie and Ahuntsic,” said Perez.
Residents also voiced concerns about the contract, and are skeptical considering that the size of the bidding-pool.
"Why is that?," asked Nadia Abdelahad, a resident of Cote-des-Neiges. "I find that pretty odd. Having followed the Charbonneau for the last year, of course I'm relating that to all the corruption and mess that we were told about."
Marvin Rotrand, former Union Montreal councillor turned Coalition Montreal candidate says there is always a concern when there is only one bidder for a contract. But, he says this one has been verified by city services and lawyers who feel it is a fair contract.
Rotrand also noted, like Perez, that the previous contract will soon expire, so there is little room for choosing beyond opting to move forward before the snow begins to fall.
"I don't think citizens of our borough are willing to have no protection against snowfall for most of the winter on the basis of one councillor saying he doesn't like the price and municipal services saying the prices are actually better than boroughs controlled by that party," said Rotrand.