Old report surfaces, shows Montreal warned years ago about inflated costs

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – The City of Montreal has released a report that suggests the municipality knew years ago that it was significantly overpaying for construction projects, perhaps by more than 30 per cent.

In response to allegations that municipal officials were hiding old documents, the city released a half-dozen reports commissioned since 2004.

The 2004 report stated that Montreal was a closed market when it came to construction, with contracts going to the same half-dozen companies over and over.

The current city manager, Guy Hebert, says action began being taken in 2009 with a number of measures designed to prevent collusion and corruption in the awarding of municipal contracts.

A report in 2006 made a lengthy list of suggestions on how to deal with the potential problem. Hebert says those recommendations are in effect today.

The existence of the reports came to light last week when the city’s second most-powerful politician, Michael Applebaum, quit as chairman of the executive committee.

He expressed frustration with his colleagues over their decision to delay releasing the report until after city council meets to select an interim mayor this week.

Applebaum was also upset that colleagues refused his proposal to scale back planned property tax hikes; he said taxpayers were justifiably angry about waste and corruption and didn’t deserve a planned 3.3 per cent tax increase.

Applebaum had another reason to be miffed with his colleagues: he was passed over as his party’s choice for interim mayor. The city council will pick a temporary replacement for Gerald Tremblay, who recently resigned as part of the fallout from a corruption controversy.