Ottawa

Stage set for council showdown over LRT contract

A group of Ottawa city councillors is expected to give notice Wednesday that they want a formal inquiry into how SNC-Lavalin won the $1.6-billion contract to extend the Trillium Line despite falling short during the evaluation process.

Councillors to demand external review of decision to award $1.6B Trillium Line extension to SNC-Lavalin

Some city councillors haven't been satisfied with the explanations of how the city handled SNC-Lavalin Group's bid during the Trillium Line 2 procurement process. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

A group of Ottawa city councillors is expected to give notice Wednesday that they want a formal inquiry into how SNC-Lavalin won the $1.6-billion contract to extend the Trillium Line despite falling short during the evaluation process.

Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard said he and his colleagues have been fielding angry emails and phone calls from constituents outraged by this week's revelations, as well as the ongoing problems that have led to chronic train shortages and service delays on the four-month-old Confederation Line.

"How do we restore public trust? How do we make sure that the process that was followed previously fully comes to light and is revealed in a way that the public again has confidence in our transit system and our senior leadership here at city hall?" Menard asked. 

Menard wants a breakdown of how much it would cost to get out of the $1-billion, 30-year contract with Rideau Transit Maintenance, which is responsible for maintaining the entire system for the coming three decades.

He also wants to understand why Infrastructure Ontario wasn't asked to oversee the Stage 2 procurement, as it did for Stage 1. The Stage 2 procurement process was overseen by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

While the city's auditor general found no rules were broken during that process, Menard wants to know how SNC-Lavalin managed to alleviate the evaluators' concerns after its bid earned damning technical scorecards.

Menard said other councillors are planning to file separate notices of motion.

Issues for Feb. 12 agenda

Filing notice means the issues will be debated at the following meeting, on Feb. 12, but whether full council approves them remains to be seen.

Menard and a group of his colleagues have not typically been successful in on votes such as overturning the heritage permit for the Chateau Laurier addition or repealing zoning for a Salvation Army shelter in Vanier

On LRT, however, Menard said councillors aren't doing their jobs if they don't seek answers.

I'm hoping that council doesn't just say everything's fine, you know, tickety boo. I think that they'll be affected not just at the next election but throughout the rest of this term if that goes on.- Coun. Shawn Menard

"I'm hoping that council doesn't just say everything's fine, you know, tickety boo. I think that they'll be affected not just at the next election but throughout the rest of this term if that goes on,"  Menard said.

"We need to be getting answers here and responding to the anger that's coming from the public rightfully."

Coun. Shawn Menard says he met with the owner of 1123 Bank Street to find a way that a demolition permit could be issued without the owner first having to provide a formal site plan. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

On Wednesday, council will also hear Mayor Jim Watson's annual speech about the state of the city.

They will debate a motion by Coun. Catherine McKenney to declare an affordable housing and homelessness emergency, as well as be asked to approve a new climate change master plan and tree by-law.

The city's medical officer of health will also provide an update on Ottawa Public Health's work related to the novel coronavirus.

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