Bid-rigging probe prompts Gatineau contractors to consider legal options
Lowest bidder Ed Brunet & Associates says the city's plans were expensive and bid was reasonable
One construction company says they plan to sue the city of Gatineau and another is considering its legal options after the city called the province's anti-corruption squad to investigate the bidding process for a new multi-use centre to replace the aging Robert Guertin Arena.
Gatineau city council unanimously rejected all of the construction bids after the lowest bidder entered a bid $15 million more than the estimated cost for the project.
The second lowest bidder, Pomerleau, said they plan to sue the city for damage to its reputation.
Ed Brunet & Associates made the lowest bid of $66.2 million dollars.
The company's president, Raymond Brunet, said he hasn't decided whether his company will take legal action, but said his team is devastated by the allegations of collusion.
"It is an expensive building, to be built in some expensive conditions," said Brunet. "[The price] is an accumulation of maybe 200 subcontractors and suppliers that provide us with their price and their specialties and we put it together to get our price and believe me we're not putting $15 million in our pocket."
Gatineau mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said the city received information that led city staff to believe the process "might have been tainted" and decided after meeting with police that it was justified to call the Unité permanente anticorruption.
Pedneaud-Jobin said when the bids came back so much higher than the estimations of city staff, the city again checked its assumptions to ensure the error was not on their end.
"We are convinced that our estimations are right," he said.
Pedneaud-Jobin said the matter is now in hands of investigators, who will ultimately make the assessment as to whether the bidding process was done properly.