Break up flawed Eglinton LRT contract or waste $500 million: Marchese

The government must break up the massive contract for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, said Trinity-Spadina MPP and NDP Urban Transportation Critic Rosario Marchese today, responding to a statement by the Construction Design Alliance of Ontario that warned the flawed procurement process could waste half a billion dollars.

The CDAO statement said that Infrastructure Ontario “did not follow its own rules” with the $4 billion project, the largest in its history. By ignoring its own protocol for bundling projects, CDAO Chair Clive Thurston said that Infrastructure Ontario had “hamstrung the tendering process, limited competition, stifled innovation, and isolated the small- and medium-sized construction and design firms. This procedure will cost taxpayers more in the end.”

Marchese says the CDAO’s concerns are well-grounded, and agreed with its recommendations to unbundle the huge contract.

“I understand that only two companies have responded to the government’s Request For Qualifications, making a joke of the competitive bid process,” said Marchese. “We have rules against sole-source contracts, but this scheme is turning into basically the same thing, with the government about to waste half a billion dollars.”

Marchese demanded that the government separate out the design components of the procurement for immediate tender. He said that the remaining components should be reviewed by the new Financial Accountability Office to ensure that best practices are followed. Finally, Marchese said the maintenance component of the contract should be sourced separately.

“These are common-sense changes that will make this project more manageable, less risky, and allow more competing companies to bid, including local architects and builders,” said Marchese. “We will get a better result, and save half a billion dollars of the taxpayer’s money.”

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