Côte-des-Neiges district councillor Magda Popeanu promised to keep a watchful eye over the snow removal work done by CMS Entrepreneurs Généraux to make sure that all the conditions of the contract for CDN-NDG are respected.
CMS, the same company that provided the service in past years, was the only bidder for the contract approved by the outgoing borough council on Sept. 30.
As a Projet Montréal candidate running in the Nov. 3 municipal election, she had heard that no rules were in place to disqualify any bidder.
Now a member of council, she expressed the same doubts about the five-year contract. “I will not try to convince you that it was a good deal,” replied the councillor to a Côte-des-Neiges resident, Michael Shafter, during the first regular meeting of the newly elected borough council on Dec. 9.
Popeanu said that the question now is what to do with this new contract. “I invite residents to address the services and the politicians to have the best snow removal in the city for the next five years,” she suggested.
Shafter also suggested “renegotiating a lower, more reasonable price” with CMS, as well as the adoption of guidelines that “no award can be made with fewer than two sincere competitive bids” in order to obtain best value and keep the price down. He noted that the five-year $22 million contract “had all the red flags of a contract that should not have been approved” because there was only one bidder and is “a lot more expensive in the first year compared to the year before.”
Borough mayor Russell Copeman replied that it would not be legal or feasible to renegotiate the contract. “You may object to the process leading up to it, and that’s entirely your right to do so, but that contract was duly approved by this borough council and is in force,” he said. “The file was sent to the city’s comptroller general office to make sure it was in order, and that delayed the process somewhat,” he said.
Darlington district councillor Lionel Perez, who was mayor when the contract was approved by council, rejected the suggestion that it was handled inappropriately and reiterated the rationale for the decision. He explained that the council was bound by the existing rules and that the new contract provided a much higher level of service compared to the old one. He added that a long-term contract was much more cost-efficient than a short-term agreement, pointing out that the five-year contract is not the most expensive one in Montreal. “When we do a comparison of what we pay per linear meter of snow removal, we are paying less than what is being paid in Ville-Marie, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie and Plateau Mont-Royal in their seven-year contract, and even in some sectors of Ahuntsic-Cartierville,” he said.
Another resident who lives near the border of Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges–NDG reported that the quality of snow removal on the sidewalks is quite different from one borough to the next.
“You can almost always walk on cement in Outremont, whereas in Côte-des-Neiges you walk on snow and icy sidewalks. How much more do I need to pay in taxes to be able to enjoy nice sidewalks here?” he asked.
Public works director Jean Mercier explained that the borough starts to spread grit on the sidewalks as soon as it stops snowing. But it takes a lot longer than an hour to clear all the sidewalks in the borough.
Mayor Russell Copeman noted that the CDN-NDG borough has a much larger territory and population than Outremont and is a greater challenge.