Snow-removal company caught charging Montreal full price for half-full trucks
Contracts cancelled after inspectors find 300 out of 514 trucks weren't even loaded to the half-way mark
Two snow-removal contracts with one company have been terminated after Montreal's inspector general discovered the firm was charging full price for full trucks — but the trucks weren't full.
Worth a total of $9.3 million, the contracts were awarded by the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough in June 2016 and were to last four years.
The snow-removal company, Transport Rosemont, was paid by the truckload brought to the snow dump sites and those trucks were supposed to be full.
But they weren't. Yet the company was charging between $172 and $332 per truckload, depending on the size of the vehicle.
"The evidence shows that the snowblower operators — all employees of Transport Rosemont — were the ones who decided on the quantity of snow to load in the trucks and, despite their knowledge of the standards expected in this regard, systematically failed to fill the trucks to their full capacity," states a summary of the report issued by the inspector general, Brigitte Bishop.
The inspector says this violated a bylaw which prohibits the commission of "fraudulent tactics in the execution of city contracts."
And now the company may be excluded from bidding on city contracts for up to five years.
300 trucks shorted in one operation
According to the report tabled Monday afternoon, 300 of 514 loads analyzed by the inspector were filled to 50 per cent or less during the fifth snow removal operation of the season.
This was discovered after photos of each truck entering the dump site were analyzed.
In comparison, inspectors also analyzed a competing company in a neighbouring sector and only three of its 202 loads were about 50 per cent full.
Transport Rosemont was warned repeatedly by the borough, Bishop says in the report, but the company failed to clean up its act and the inspector believes the explanations provided "are not credible."
'Irreparably undermined the trust'
Transport Rosemont "irreparably undermined the trust in its contractual bond to the city," the report's summary says, especially since these contracts involve several hundred truckloads over the course of a winter season and "therefore require a high degree of confidence in the good faith of the other party."
Opposition leader Lionel Perez is calling for an investigation into the loading of snow in all boroughs.
"There is still something that does not work in snow removal," Perez told the media Monday.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said her administration took note of the report and was going to crack down on the company.
Plante said payments to the company were suspended and now the next step is to try to figure out who owes whom money after the contract was terminated.
With files from Radio-Canada