03/23/2015 05:20 EDT | Updated 05/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Montreal corruption watchdog finds "serious irregularities" in Parc Jean-Drapeau contracts

Montreal’s inspector-general Denis Gallant has uncovered serious problems with several contracts awarded in connection with a project to spruce up Parc Jean-Drapeau for Montreal’s 375th anniversary in 2017.

The contracts were awarded for a project called Horizon 2017, which includes plans to build a central plaza near the metro station in Parc Jean-Drapeau, a riverside promenade and a natural amphitheatre.

In a report issued Monday, Denis Gallant said the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau — the publicly funded body that runs the park — ignored or incorrectly applied rules for awarding several contracts over the last two years.

Gallant said four contracts were awarded in a process “contrary to the rules of law”, and he identified eight other contracts with “serious irregularities.”

Previous recommendations ignored

Gallant’s report said the problem is all that much more serious considering the city’s auditor-general identified many of the same problems at the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau in a report released two years ago.  Gallant said it appears the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau simply ignored most of the auditor-general’s recommendations.

Gallant’s report said the non-profit development group that was awarded many of the contracts, Le Quartier International de Montréal, imposed requirements “rarely used in the municipal world, which impeded competition, fairness, and the chance to obtain the best product at the best price.”

Gallant said some contracts, which clearly should have been subject to a public call for tenders, were simply awarded to Le Quartier International de Montréal with little scrutiny or oversight.

The report also notes the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau failed to submit certain contracts to the City of Montreal’s executive committee for approval.

Gallant said so far Le Quartier International de Montréal has been paid just over $2 million for its work on the project. He said it’s difficult to determine precisely what that money has paid for, since Le Quartier International de Montréal provided little to no detail in its monthly invoices.

The report was tabled at Montreal’s city council meeting Monday afternoon. Gallant’s office said he would not comment on the report for now.