MONTREAL – Testimony at the Charbonneau Commission has put the mayor of Montreal in hot water over potholes.
His survey asking Montrealers if they approve of the city using companies named at the corruption inquiry to fill the potholes has many up-in-arms – but Mayor Michael Applebaum says his only other choice is not to fill the potholes at all.
Global News wanted to find out whether there were any companies that aren’t linked to corruption that could do the job.
But this may not be as easy as it seems.
Robert Mathers understands that the mayor is stuck between a rock and a hard place but this manufacturer and supplier of asphalt insists Michael Applebaum needs to drop his online survey and sign a contract to repair Montreal’s potholes.
“Right now, if you want the potholes filled you don’t have any choice.”
The mayor claims the city will run out of asphalt on April 15 and so he’s offered Montrealers a stark choice: leave the potholes unfilled or award a contract to one of the seven suppliers whose names have come up in the Charbonneau Commission or accused of corruption.
“They will have to go with these companies,” said Mathers. “They won’t have that much choice.”
Mathers says he would love to supply Montreal with tons of asphalt, but his company only starts preparing it in the late spring.
In fact, there are only a handful of firms in the Greater Montreal region that make asphalt year round.
“It costs millions of dollars to open an asphalt plant and not everybody is going to open one tomorrow.”
Paving company owner Frank Perrotta agrees there are just a few Montreal-based companies that supply asphalt during the winter. He insists fuel and labour costs make it prohibitive for Montreal to look elsewhere to buy its asphalt.
“What would you do? Ship the asphalt from Ottawa to Quebec? What would the trucking costs be? Way too expensive.”
The online survey claims that Montreal’s elected officials are facing a dilemma and the choices they face are not to be taken lightly.
However, getting the public’s opinion on the matter is no more than an academic exercise.
A spokesperson for the mayor told Global News that the results would bear no weight on whether Montreal plans to award the contract.
“We cannot go on like this it’s a joke.”
Economic analyst Claude Garcia is disappointed that the city council didn’t vote on this issue when it had a chance to do so at a previous meeting.
“I think the council did not take its’ responsibility seriously and we didn’t elect them to not make decisions. we elected them to make decisions.”
A city spokesperson confirmed that a special council will be held on the awarding of contracts. The mayor hopes this time it will vote in favour of filling Montreal’s potholes, so that there will be enough asphalt to fill them after April 15.