Scandal On The Snowy Streets

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on December 20, 2016

Once upon a time, in a land of unplowed streets…

Much of the northern hemisphere has got its shiver on as we creep up on the holiday festivities, trying not to be affected too much by the deep freeze.

Where’s there’s snow, ice, and slippery conditions in many cities, we West Coasters (notably Vancouver) share jokes about how our entire region shares one token snow plow. You see we just don’t get too much practice driving in the snow and ice. We really do live in a very mild region of North America.

The need for the same amount of road and highway maintenance just isn’t quite the same as it is in other colder regions. So it’s safe to say the contract bidding war over who gets to plow the city isn’t quite at the same level as say, Ontario.

We’ve said it before, that fraud and unethical behaviour doesn’t discriminate. And the winter is no exception. So you may have guessed where this post is going.

That’s right. Right to the snowy streets of Ontario. And the contract scandal over how the Province chose savings over snow clearing on highways.

Keeping the infrastructure clear of snow and safe for residents to travel on is critical. So it goes without saying that there’s a contract awarding process that takes place where one lucky bidder gets the job (or a few in this case).

The problem that the Province’s Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are saying that the Province’s ruling Liberal government lowered is road maintenance standards in 2009 in an attempt to reduce costs, favouring the lowest bidders with little regard for whether they could do the work. This has resulted in more dangerous driving conditions during the winter season.

Why? Because the snow and ice are still on the roads and isn’t getting cleared as quickly, or as thoroughly.

An audit has reported that the government saved money on winter road maintenance over the past few years, however it was at a cost of greater delays in clearing roads of snow or ice.

Now of course tax payers are all over saving money. However, the issue is what’s happening with the existing taxes paid, and how paid taxes going forward are handled.

Governments the world over have their fair share of scandal over how they are using tax payer money. And tax payers demand more accountability. Wintertime in Ontario is no exception.

So when awarding of road clearing contracts goes awry and the process becomes a circus, the public want answers.

First, there were the questions around the whereabouts of $15 million for the purpose of purchasing snow clearing equipment, that these companies were given. Apparently the lowest winning bidders didn’t have enough equipment to fulfill their contract. Interestingly, the second lowest bidder had enough equipment and could have fulfilled the province’s needs at a lesser cost.

And now the province is owed a few million in fines from contracted plowing companies for poor performance (no kidding) and the government is still waiting to collect.

This type of story isn’t new. Governments everywhere have people asking many questions of them. People wonder about a government’s integrity and accountability. The public questions unethical behaviour on a daily basis.

This is just one such story fitting for this wintery time of year.

Careful driving out there if it’s a little scary where you live.

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