Montreal auditor general Jacques Bergeron is refusing to make revisions to his report into the city’s recently cancelled water-meter contract, despite threats of legal action.
The engineering firm BPR has given Bergeron 30 days to make the revisions, said the firm's president, Pierre Lavallée.
In September, the auditor general's findings led Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay to cancel the city's $355-million contract with the engineering consortium Génieau and fire two top city officials.
The contract was for the installation of water meters in non-residential buildings in a bid to monitor commercial and industrial water use. BPR was hired to oversee the bidding process and draft the technical specifications.
In his report, Bergeron was critical of BPR’s assessment of the potential savings that could be generated by the Génieau contract. BPR claims the auditor general's report is incomplete and filled with errors.
BPR is also suing Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel for $50,000 for what Lavallée calls "unfounded and defamatory " remarks. Two weeks ago, Harel stated that BPR representatives misled city officials at a technical presentation held in April.
BPR wants a retraction from Harel, Lavallée said.
"We feel that the people of Montreal have to know exactly the truth about the project and about why we have to do this project in order to obtain the full control of the water main," Lavallée said.
After receiving a lawyer’s letter from BPR on Monday, Bergeron issued a statement denying the accusations.
"There is no element that would invalidate the conclusions and the recommendations of the report," Bergeron said.
He added that the technical portion of his report was prepared with the support of a "solid team led by experienced university professors with recognized expertise in the field of water and the management of projects."
During preparation of the report, Bergeron said officials met with representatives from BPR, adding that the report does not constitute a judgment against the engineering firm.
Harel calls for cancellation
At Monday’s city council meeting, Harel was expected to present a motion calling on the city to cancel its contract with BPR.
But city majority leader Marvin Rotrand said Harel has presented no clear case for scrapping the BPR contract. He said it is important for Montrealers to resolve ongoing issues with the city’s water system.
"We have a problem — we are losing a lot of water every year," Rotrand said. "Something in the vicinity of 35 to 40 per cent of our water disappears. … That is a hugh amount of money wasted and it is a precious resource."
"The city cannot just walk away."