Reports for years showed Montrealers were getting hosed on construction: probe


MONTREAL – Quebec’s corruption inquiry is hearing that there were warning signs for over a decade that Montreal was significantly over-paying for public construction projects.

An investigator who analyzed internal city reports says officials did little to stem the tide.

The analysis is being presented today as the corruption inquiry gets set to hear from a number of former top city officials this week about the higher cost of infrastructure projects.

An inquiry investigator has testified that between 1997 and 2010, there were multiple reports that project costs soared in Montreal, with no mechanisms in place to stop collusion.

One 2009 report revealed that sewer and water pipe projects cost 85.5 per cent more in Montreal, compared to the rest of the province.

Inquiry investigator Guy Desrosiers, an accountant by trade, testified that numerous studies over the years triggered alarm bells — about the concentration of companies winning contracts, and about cost overruns.

Among the elements Desrosiers has keyed in on is the lack of competition. A 2006 report noted that the City of Montreal received generally five or six bids for certain jobs, while a significantly smaller city — Quebec — would typically have a dozen.

Problems in the management and awarding of public contracts in Montreal were highlighted in a 1997 report by the city auditor.

But Desrosiers says nothing happened following the reports.

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