Verdun's mayor is promising changes after a damning report highlighted irregularities in large residential developments on Nuns' Island.
Jean-François Parenteau said the rules will be tightened to focus on accountability and transparency.
The announcement comes in the wake of a report — prepared by Montreal’s comptroller general and made public Monday by the Journal de Montréal — that says developers were given the green light to make changes not included in their initial permits.
The report is now in the hands of Quebec’s anti-corruption squad (UPAC).
The Journal reported that one of the developers, a company named Proment, added three extra floors to a residential tower and built above-ground parking instead of the approved underground lot. The report also stated construction started before the permits were even issued.
One company, Canvar, allegedly built an illegal above-ground parking lot. A borough employee amended the regulations to allow the structure to stand.
Parenteau said the developers were given discounts on permits, which led to substantial losses for the borough.
“They changed the value of the building to pay less for the promoter,” he said, adding that his team is currently in the process of trying to get back more than $1.5 million dollars in fees and taxes.
Developers not to blame
Parenteau doesn’t blame developers — he said they just seized the opportunities that were offered by staff at the time.
He said that between 2004 and 2011, his administration was plagued by a culture he calls “creative urbanism” that promoted lax regulations and nepotism.
“The relationship between some people in the urbanism [department] and the promoters, it was really close," Parenteau said, adding that two borough employees have since been relieved of their duties and relocated to other boroughs.
On Monday afternoon, Proment put out a statement to address the report, stating they had not been contacted by the comptroller general nor by UPAC.
“Proment has always acted in good faith, in accordance with the guidance and directives of the Urban Planning Department of the Verdun Borough and most importantly, in the best interest of local residents,” said spokeswoman Virginia Champoux.
Parenteau said UPAC is continuing with its investigation.