Members of the real estate community are crying foul after the Quebec government struck a deal without going to public tender for the contract to build a ten-storey government building for hundreds of civil servants in downtown Montreal.
The deal in question is a contract between the former PQ government and the Fonds Immobilier Angus — a partnership between the Société de développement Angus and Fondaction CSN.
The new building will be part of a major development dubbed the "Carré Saint-Laurent," announced in December and set to be located on St. Laurent Boulevard, near the intersection of Réné-Levesque Boulevard.
'It's angered a lot of people who invest heavily in this province, who work hard to create opportunities.' - Jonathan Wener, Chair and CEO of Canderel
The 10-storey, 16,500 square metre government facility will house four government ministries and 800 public employees, who are currently working in offices scattered across Montreal.
The PQ government has already signed a 25-year lease for the office space.
Jonathan Wener, the chair and CEO of Canadian real estate investment company Canderel, said when the government awards contracts without a public call for tenders, he believes it risks sending a message that Quebec only does business with Quebec companies.
“I'm quite sure there's not enough capital to do all the things that we would like if we only use Quebec money," said Wener.
The department that negotiates real estate transactions for the government of Quebec confirms the contract was awarded without a public call for tenders.
That practice is not illegal, but that hasn't stopped other developers from criticizing the government.
They say the province could have saved millions by renting space in existing buildings, and it's going to cost at least 50 million dollars more over the next 25 years than if the employees had stayed put.
“It's angered a lot of people who invest heavily in this province, who work hard to create opportunities, to create investment and create an awful lot of jobs, who would like an equal opportunity to have tried and succeeded,” Wener said.
The president of the Société de développement Angus is Christian Yaccarini.
Yaccarini co-owns the land with the CSN's investment arm.
He is also the spouse of first-time Parti Québécois candidate Lorraine Pintal who is running in the Verdun riding.
The chief electoral officer's records confirm that Yaccarini has made donations to several political parties over the years, but he has favoured the PQ, donating a total $21,695 to the party since 2004.
Yaccarini refused to comment.
The Quebec government told CBC News's to file an access to information request for a copy of the agreement between the Quebec government and the Fonds Immobilier Angus.
Jean-François Lisée was the Quebec minister responsible for Montreal and external commerce when the deal was announced.
No one from the government was available to comment on the story.