$175 million compost project draws fire from city hall opposition
The City of Montreal awarded a $175 million contract for a new compost facility on Tuesday, but opposition city councillors are questioning the project’s price tag.
“It’s like they’re digging in their heels and refusing to answer any questions,” said city councillor Marvin Rotrand. “This is a huge contract, it’s rare that we spend up to $200 million at a shot.”
The project, which will be overseen by Suez Canada Waste Services, is the largest since the failed $355 million water meter contract given out under the administration of former mayor Gerald Tremblay.
Montreal city council approved the compost contract by a vote of 35 to 21, but city councillor Francesco Miele said there are still unanswered questions.
“What we were asking was for a session with the civil servants on a contract that we had to award,” he said. “They’ve been working on it for 10 months and we can’t even have an hour and a half with our civil servants to ask diligent questions.”
Montreal’s demerged cities are also upset, saying they’ll be on the hook for part of the bill.
“We’re about to spend $175 million, of which the suburban municipalities are on the hook for $30 million and we’re not involved in the process anywhere,” said Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella. “It’s being presented to us an hour before we have to vote on it on Thursday.”
Masella said costs for the compost centre have ballooned over the years as the size of the project increased but some city officials said the larger facility is needed so bad odours don’t escape into the surrounding neighbourhood.
“If you vote against it because the facility is too big, it means you want the odours to be outside,” said Ahuntsic-Cartierville Mayor Emilie Thuillier.
Despite repeated request, representatives for the Plante administration said nobody would be available to comment on the contract.
Masella said the project needs to be sent back to the drawing board.
“Is this still the right plan, is this still the right way forward?” he said. “At the end, it may be the right way forward, but let’s base it on a plan that’s been validated, not one that’s 10 years old.”