Higher costs than anticipated for several infrastructure projects are of concern to municipal elected officials, who are demanding the administration of Valérie Plant to better control costs, especially as the pandemic risk of harm to the finances of the City of Montreal.
Richard Deschamps, chairman of the Committee on finance of Montréal and elected for the last twenty years, has hinted on Tuesday that he had a sense of déjà-vu.
“There are a large number of folders in this council [municipal] for which the costs are increasing significantly, 20, 25, 30%; and often there is only a single bidder,” said the elected Team Beard.
“It was good to have explanations, to say that it is the market, but it seems to me that there was a signal – I would not say alarm – but an important signal to all of the units of the City should take into account”, said Mr. Deschamps.
Karine Boivin Roy, chair of the Commission on the review of the contracts, has also warned against a “normalization of deviations from the estimated control”.
For example, a contract of $ 42.6 million has been allocated for the rehabilitation and expansion of the library Maisonneuve; an expenditure is 37% higher than the initial estimates.
This difference can be explained by the overheating of the market, the lack of manpower and the historic nature of the building. However, “the justification of a deviation of this magnitude by the phenomenon of overheating of the market must be the subject of increased attention,” said Ms. Boivin Roy.
But still, the commission fears that the pandemic will be subject to increased prices.
According to Sylvain Ouellet, head of infrastructure at the City executive committee, “cost overruns in relation to the estimates are mostly in work-integrated, very complex, very long, often in the city centre, for mobility issues”.
Some entrepreneurs do not have the habit of working in urban areas, he adds.
Also, work on major projects like the Turcot interchange, make the labour less available. “The REM drains a lot of resources now,” said Mr. Ouellet.
According to the elected Project Montreal, the obsolescence of certain infrastructures requires the City to make “choices more difficult”. Contracts more expensive, but “within a reasonable range”, can therefore be given in order to avoid urgent work that are much more expensive.