Skip to content

Meehan, Menard call for independent investigation into LRT Stage 2 winning bid

The proposal will be presented at the February 12 City Council meeting.
2019-08-23 Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan MV1
Ottawa City Councillor Carol Anne Meehan, August 23, 2019. Mike Vlasveld/

If senior city staff won't offer up answers to the continued LRT Stage 2 debacle, maybe an outsider will.

That's what Ottawa City councillors Carol Anne Meehan and Shawn Menard hope will happen should the rest of City Council get on board with their idea of hiring an outside investigator to look into the contract selection process for Stage 2 at the next council meeting on February, 12.

"I think we need an independent third-party review of the procurement for Stage 2 LRT – specifically why the decision was made to allow the worst bid in the procurement process to go ahead so that it was in the final round for the financial bid," Meehan, councillor for Gloucester-South Nepean, said. "Ultimately, we know that the lowest bid won, but we want to know why - we want to know why a bid that should have been disqualified not once, but twice was allowed to go through to the final round."

The lowest bid and winner was TransitNEXT. 

According to Meehan, TransitNEXT's first proposal had only received a 63 per cent rating. That rating only climbed slightly to 67 per cent when the group was allowed to submit a second time.

This has left councillors, transit users and taxpayers with a lot of unanswered questions, she says.

"Was it because the City has a process where the lowest bid wins, or was it something else at the heart of it?" Meehan said. "A lot of people are skeptical about what's going on. We're hearing conspiracy theories being bandied around. This (investigation) would get to the heart of it and answer a lot of questions."

Ottawa's Auditor General Ken Hughes assured at a November Audit Committee meeting that staff member did nothing wrong when they pushed forward the winning bid, despite it failing to meeting technical standards.

But there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, Meehan and Capital ward councillor Menard say, like why the procurement rules were written the way they were and why the request for proposals was not made public, as it usually is in Ontario.

"And why was there a discretionary clause, that we have since learned that the city manager used to push that bid through," Meehan said. "We as councillors are the only ones accountable to the public on this and I can't understand why we wouldn't have consensus around the council table to find out exactly what happened, so we don't repeat our mistakes in the future."

The descretion clause allows bidders on city projects to still be considered, even if they don't meet all requirements but are still considered the best choice, Hughes said in November. In this case, SNC-Lavalin was both the lowest bidder and best value for taxpayers.

Hughes also did call for more transparency on large city projects, something Meehan and Menard feel they're still not getting.

As for the cost of an independent investigation, Meehan says she and Menard will ask councillors to come up with independent evaluators to determine the cost of an investigation. 

But, Meehan says, if council decides to spend the money, it will be money well spent because she believes it will save taxpayers money in the long run.

"I just want to make sure that the people in Riverside South, Findlay Creek and the south end of Barrhaven get the rail service that we really deserve and I'm not really sure that we have. I really want to make sure that TNext has addressed all the technical issues that they didn't address in the bidding process. This is really the only way we can do it."

With files from Jenn Pritchard

Rogers Sports & Media
2001 Thurston Drive Ottawa, ON, K1G 6C9
© 2006-2023 Rogers Sports & Media. All rights reserved.
push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks