The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy (MAMROT) are investigating the municipality of Saint-Anicet.
“The municipality of Saint-Anicet is under investigation,“ confirmed Daniel Joseph Chapdelaine, of the Office of the Commissioner for Complaints for the MAMROT. “Complaints received regarding the municipality of Saint-Anicet were deemed admissible, and the investigation is ongoing. The complaints, however, are confidential.”
While strictly administrative in nature, these complaints do not come as a surprise considering the standoff between the municipal employees union and elected officials. One thing is for certain; the complaints do not concern a road marking contract recently awarded to the highest bidder, which is legal according to the law as the amount of the contract was less than $25,000.
At the most recent meeting of the municipal council on September 6, counsellors Jean Roblain, Alain Fournier and Marius Trépanier effectively refused to vote in favour of a resolution retroactively accepting a bid from a road marking company as the work had already been done. The trio of counsellors said they did not want to contravene the law by adopting such a resolution considering the submission by the contractor – the Bécancour-based company Lignco Sigma Inc. completed the work in August – was not voted on and accepted by the council.
The contract was awarded to Lingco Sigma Inc. despite the fact the company submitted the highest bid for the work at $20,880. Two other companies specialized in road marking had also submitted lower bids, of $15,044 and $16,090. According to the Registre des entreprises du Quebec, the majority shareholder of Lingco Sigma Inc. is a company called Sintra, which the city of Montreal alleges was part of a cartel that exaggerated tenders and is now claiming repayment of more than $16 million.
Mayor Alain Castagner suggested Lignco Sigma Inc. ensured the paint would not show signs of wear for two years, which is why, he said, they chose the bid. “The road marking work was pressing, it had to be done before autumn,” said Castagner, amid murmurings in the hall and several citizens questioning why the municipality had not planned to go to tender earlier.
A Cazaville resident also complained about the work done by Lignco Sigma Inc. on the Cazaville Sideroad, suggesting it could compromise children’s safety. “They should have marked a solid line on the Cazaville Sideroad in the village and not a broken line in the 50 km/h zone,” she said, her husband nodding his head beside her.
The municipal council decided during the meeting to postpone the review of another set of submissions concerning an environmental assessment in order to further study the bids received. “It is quite possible the Town Hall was municipal garage were built on a contaminated site,” revealed the mayor. “These submissions relate to core drilling to assess the contamination of the sub-soil under these buildings.”
A notice of motion was also given for a bylaw to borrow for the acquisition of a rescue truck for the fire department. The mayor estimates the cost of the truck to be around $300,000.
During the question period, André Leblanc, the President of the Municipal Workers Union, questioned the amount charged by the attorney negotiating on behalf of the municipality, which exceeded $25,000 at the time of the meeting. “The discussions with the union are lengthy, and it will take the time it takes to come to an agreement,“ replied the mayor.
Translated by Sarah Rennie
Volunteer correspondents for the Haut-Saint-Laurent
Photos: Lise Guinard