NDG construction woes due to anti-corruption efforts

Some residents of Oxford Avenue in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce are having a tough time getting around, thanks to ripped-up sidewalks — and it may be rooted in Quebec’s recently publicized brushes with corruption.

Sidewalks on Oxford Ave. have been under construction since July

Richard Nantel of Oxford Street in NDG told CBC News about the sidewalk trouble on his street using the CBC Street Politics interactive map. (CBC)

Some residents of Oxford Avenue in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce are having a tough time getting around, thanks to sidewalks that have been under construction for months — and it may be due to steps being taken to tackle corruption and collusion in the awarding of public works contracts.

Richard Nantel first told CBC News of the problem using the Street Politics interactive map set up as a way for Quebecers to voice their concerns about issues in their communities during the municipal election campaign.

Nantel says the work began in June, when workers came around to put no-parking signs on the street. The digging started in early July to repair the drains.

NDG city councillor Peter McQueen says the hold up on construction is related to the vetting process used by the provincial government to avoid corruption. (CBC)

But he says that once the drains were repaired, no one came to fix the sidewalks that had been torn up.

“Every few weeks, someone does a little bit of work, then leaves for a while,” he says.

“Here we are in September, and the sidewalks are still torn up.”

He says he doesn’t understand the delays — but NDG city councillor Peter McQueen does.

McQueen says the hold up is because of new rules put in place to conduct background checks on construction companies as a method of preventing corruption.

“The winning lowest bidder, who our borough gave it to, has not been cleared by Quebec City, and the whole process is taking much longer than expected,” McQueen says.

He explains that the province's markets watchdog, L'Autorité des marchés financiers, is taking a lot of time running checks on companies for projects all over the borough.

“A price has been paid this year. It’s been paid by many people in NDG,” McQueen says, pointing to the Décarie, Addington and Vendome projects that are still in varying stages of repair.

But McQueen, who is running to keep a council seat with Projet Montréal, says it’s for a very good reason — to battle corruption that he says was rampant during the 10-year Tremblay administration.

“They let it go, they let it go, and now we’re in a situation where, hey, to make these changes, to find new competitors to enter the marketplace and to encourage a more open bidding process, it takes time. You can’t just snap your fingers,” McQueen says.

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