By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 28 2017
The provincial government is ending its contract with multinational company Carillion for highway maintenance in its Huntsville district which includes Haliburton County just more than halfway through that contract.
“The Ministry of Transportation and Carillion have mutually agreed to end the contract for the Huntsville area” reads an email from ministry communication staff. “This is a mutual decision between the two organizations based on what is best for the province the travelling public and for Carillion. Retendering the contract for the Huntsville area provides the opportunity for MTO to make enhancements to the services provided under the maintenance contract.”
The 11-year contract with Carillion worth $12 million a year began in 2012 and many county residents noticed a sharp decline in the quality of snow-clearing along highways 35 and 118. What residents have called dangerous winter conditions have prompted many letters to the editor during the past few years. Haliburton County council has sent correspondence with its concerns to the provincial government and councillors along with MPP Laurie Scott have met with MTO reps regarding the issue in the past.
In April of 2015 Ontario’s auditor general released a scathing report that concluded that the province’s changing of highway performance standards to require less sanding etc. as well as less oversight was putting Ontarians’ lives at risk and causing more weather-related traffic deaths.
The changes were made to reduce costs and numerous lawsuits were filed against the province.
In late 2015 after a long Freedom of Information process that included mediation with the Ontario’s privacy commissioner the Times obtained a copy of the contract between the province and Carillion.
Among the hundreds of pages were clauses allowing the provincial government to terminate part or all of the contractor’s right to work as well as terminate the entire contract with Carillion if it was deemed that the company was not performing its work properly.
The contract also put strict limitations on the company’s ability to discuss the contract and stated that any media releases from the company had to be vetted by the province first.
Carillion will continue to look after highways in the Huntsville district through this winter and a new contractor will take over on Sept. 1 2018. The province issued a request for proposals on Sept. 14 “to select a new service provider for the Huntsville area through an open transparent competitive process” the email from MTO communication staff reads. “Any contractor that meets the ministry’s prequalification criteria may submit a proposal. After completing the value-based selection the ministry will award the new contract to the successful proponent.”
Under the previous contract for the area which was held by Fowler Construction snow-clearing was sub-contracted to local companies.