Councillor concerned about LRT bidder’s links to SNC-Lavalin scandal
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:33PM EST
Regional councillors approved the shortlist of three consortiums looking to bid on building Waterloo Region’s light rail transit system, but one councillor raised concerns about one of the interested parties.
Kitchener Coun. Jean Haalboom was the lone holdout Tuesday as the region’s planning and works committee approved GrandLinq, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge Transit Partners and TriCity Transit System as the three finalists for the contract.
At issue for Haalboom was SNC-Lavalin’s presence in the TriCity Transit System group.
The multinational firm has been accused of ethical breaches, including giving alleged bribes worth millions of dollars to the family of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Last November, SNC-Lavalin’s CEO was charged with fraud in a case allegedly involving $22 million and a Montreal hospital.
“I have a lot of concern about our reputation here in the region, and also I am concerned with how this company does business," Haalboom said Tuesday.
Officials were quick to respond that they didn’t believe there was any connection between the SNC-Lavalin team wanting to take part in building the LRT and the branches of the company accused of impropriety.
“The team that they have presented to us are not involved in any one of those cases,” said rapid transit director Darshpreet Bhatti.
Provincial crown corporation Infrastructure Ontario is assisting the region with procurement of the $818-million LRT system. They’ve done similar work on a rapid transit line in Ottawa which included SNC-Lavalin among its winning partners.
“They’ve specifically looked into SNC-Lavalin, and they have satisfied themselves that SNC-Lavalin is fully compliant with Canadian laws and fully capable of delivering on our project,” said regional CAO Mike Murray.
The shortlist must still be approved by the full regional council.
The final decision on which consortium will win the contract is expected to be made in early 2014.