The City of Montreal has just awarded a $93 million contract to builder Pomerleau for work on the sewage treatment plant, just a few weeks after this firm was slapped on the knuckles by the Inspector General.
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In a report made public on February 21, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of Montreal concluded that the Société de transport de Montréal and Pomerleau had “directed” a bidding process to a single company for work on the new garage of ‘bus.
Despite these criticisms, the OIG did not recommend that the City take action against Pomerleau.
This is why the executive committee on Wednesday awarded this company a major contract for work related to the disinfection of wastewater, a project expected for more than 20 years.
Officials decided to award the contract to Pomerleau before the BIG revelations. However, a commission made up of elected officials studied the submission in detail afterwards and decided to go ahead.
“The contracting process is compliant. They are not greylisted or blacklisted. [Si on annulait le contrat]we would have to go back to calls for tenders to find other companies”, indicates the elected official responsible for water issues in the Plante administration, Maja Vodanovic.
Two failed tenders
However, the ozonation project has been delayed in recent years precisely because of the lack of bidders. Since 2020, two tenders have been canceled for this reason.
“We split the contract into eight, because it’s too big. It is by far the largest ozonation project in the world. That’s 45% of Quebec’s wastewater,” explains Ms. Vodanovic.
She assures that with the first of these eight contracts, it is “the last mile” of this project which is constantly being delayed and whose costs have exploded.
In 2001, the City of Montreal decided to disinfect wastewater using an ozone process, since the discharges of Montrealers are the “main cause of microbiological contamination of the waters of the River”.
Then, in 2008, Mayor Gérald Tremblay announced the construction of an ozonation unit, at a cost of $200 million, which would be completed in 2013.
In 2017, Chantal Rouleau, then head of water in Denis Coderre’s administration, said that wastewater would be disinfected “at the end of 2018”.
It then announced the contract for the construction of a power supply station for the purification plant. This building was well constructed, but not powering anything nearly four years later.
From now on, the deadline has been pushed back to 2025 and the costs will be $717 million according to the City’s latest estimates.
A cost that is worth the candle according to Ms. Vodanovic. “The environmental cost of continuously polluting our river is enormous. With ozonation, we will have a 99.9% reduction in coliforms,” she said.
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