06/17/2014 08:36 EDT | Updated 08/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Snow removal company named in auditor general’s report denies bid-rigging

One entrepreneur whose company was named in the auditor general’s report  said he was shocked and he categorically denied any insinuations of collusion.

“I find it deplorable,” said Robert Phaneuf, president of Les Entreprises Michaudville.

The company’s name came up in Montreal’s auditor general’s report as an example of a snow-removal company that was awarded all the contracts in the Plateau—Mont-Royal borough between 2005 and 2013.

In his report, Auditor General Jacques Bergeron said that only “a handful of entrepreneurs get almost all the contracts” in that nine-year period.

Phaneuf told CBC that his company never colluded with any others to rig bids or divide territory.

He said his company bid twice on contracts for the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough during the period in question: once in 2006 and again in 2011. Both times, he said, his company was chosen because it was the lowest bidder.

Phaneuf said the company also bid twice on contracts in Ahuntsic-Cartierville and was successful once.

Raising a flag

The auditor general said while there's no clear evidence of collusion, the potential for it to occur is there.

“We're not UPAC or police. We cannot do anything except raise the flag,” Bergeron said during a news conference Tuesday.

In his report, Bergeron noted that 29 companies share more than half a billion dollars in contracts for garbage removal and recycling, and four companies were awarded more than 90 per cent of those contracts.

For snow removal, the same ten companies were awarded contracts in nine boroughs between 2005 and 2013.

Mayor Denis Coderre said that the city's inspector general will look into the matter.

Bergeron recommended that city officials should do a better job of making sure that all employees are trained to catch red flags pointing to possible collusion.

He also said boroughs should share information so that everyone is aware of which companies are bidding on which contracts.

CBC tried to contact several other companies named in the auditor general's report, but they either refused to comment, or did not respond.