03/25/2013 12:22 EDT | Updated 05/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Online pothole poll stirs controversy

The online survey asking Montrealers whether they want potholes filled is nothing more than political manoeuvring, said city councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Mayor Michael Applebaum unveiled the poll last Friday at a news conference during which he filled a pothole.

Earlier last week, city council voted to deny the granting of contracts to seven asphalt companies which had won bids to fill Montreal’s potholes.

The decision was based on the possibility of some of these companies being named by or associated with the Charbonneau commission.

“It’s not being done to take public opinion,” Rotrand said.

“I believe it’s being done so that parties who voted against filling potholes can save face when they vote in favour of it the second time.”

Rotrand said he wrote to the president of the executive council after the "no" vote to express his opposition and to insist on a special council meeting to reconsider.

“In a contract that nobody can prove was dishonest in any way, where our services are telling us the bid was competitive and fair, and that the price was actually lower than they thought it was going to be, how could you vote against?” Rotrand said.

5 of 7 firms named before inquiry

Of the seven companies that won the public tender to fill Montreal’s potholes, five of them have been named at the Charbonneau commission: Pavage Chenail, Construction DJL, Usine d’Asphalte Montréal-Nord, Bauval CMM and Tony Accurso’s Louisbourg SBC.

The other two companies are Routek Construction and Meloche.

Applebaum said last Friday that the seven companies were chosen for their price as well as their strategic locations that would facilitate pothole-filling.

He also said he believes Montrealers will vote to fill the potholes.

But both Rotrand and Projet Montreal councillor Marc-André Gadoury said separately that the online poll is not a good idea.

“You consult the population on issues — real issues. This is a non-issue,” Gadoury said.

“The question is not, do you want us to fill the potholes or not. the answer is fill the potholes, that’s your job.”

Parti Québécois minister Jean-François Lisée wrote on his blog yesterday that the potholes should be filled as a matter of citizens’ safety.

“The firms guilty of fraud will end up facing the police, judges and justice. It’s not worth massacring our axles, too,” he wrote.