Montreal's water meter saga continues
If incidental costs and inflation are factored in, Montreal taxpayers will be left with a $500-million bill over the next decade to install commercial water meters, Labonté told city council.
Mayor Gérald Tremblay called the extraordinary council meeting to review the water meter contract — which is currently suspended until Montreal’s auditor general finishes analyzing how the tender process was handled.
The water meter contract was awarded two years ago to a Montreal-based consortium of companies — GÉNiau — which includes Simard-Beaudry Construction, a business under federal investigation for alleged tax fraud.
The construction company’s owner, Tony Accurso, has been linked to former city executive president Frank Zampino. The pair spent two holidays together on Accurso's yacht while the contract tender bid process was open.
Zampino, who has since left municipal politics, denies showing the consortium any preference over other bidders.
He resigned from his new position as vice-president of Montreal engineering firm Dessau earlier this month because of the water meter controversy. Dessau is also part of the GÉNiau consortium.
On Tuesday, municipal bureaucrats explained what the water meter contract entails, including installing commercial meters to regulate water use. They compared the costs to similar contracts in Ottawa and Toronto.
Tremblay urged the council to not draw any conclusions about the water meter contract until the city’s auditor general finishes evaluating its contents.
Montreal’s impressive water leaks
Tremblay said Montreal is in dire need of commercial water meters, because the city wastes the equivalent of Paris’ daily drinking water supply every day.
About 40 per cent of Montreal’s water supply is wasted annually because of leaks and main breaks.
According to an engineering firm that helped Montreal formulate the water meter contract, Montreal is wasting a "fantastic" amount of water every year.
"The damage is very important," said Pierre Lavallée, president of BPR.
"The damages are very important — from an ecological point of view, it’s surely not a good idea, and from an economic standpoint, the losses are fantastic."