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Allegations of nepotism, mismanagement surface at Sudbury town hall

Several taxpayers left a town hall organized by 'Our Towns Our Cities' in Sudbury on Thursday night looking visibly perturbed after hearing from a company that says it was trying to breathe new life into Sudbury roads.

Road Surface Recycling (RSR) said it was never given a fair chance by city staff who were looking for reasons to see the pilot project fail.

"This city has given up on recycling," co-owner Mike Crupi told the crowd, choking back the tears.

Last week, the city issued a news release saying the testing of a $1.8 million recycled asphalt paving project done by RSR on the Kingsway found the work didn't meet the standards outlined in the contract.

"A third-party report has been received summarizing all available quality control and quality assurance testing for the HIR (hot-in-place recycling) contract," the release read.

The city said the third-party consultant (WSP Global) and its lab tested the work done in Sudbury by the Ajax-based RSR and that it would reduce the expected service life of the roadway.

The testing was done in seven categories; surface tolerance, surface appearance, asphalt cement, mix properties, lift thickness, recovered asphalt and compaction requirements.

On Thursday night, RSR brought emails and voice recordings it exchanged between city staff, which raised more questions than answers as to why the project was allowed to be halted.

"We had intended to come here and make this the stepping stone for Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay and north of Toronto because it's four hours closer to everything and what they've done is put a kibosh on everything by putting out a stupid report that doesn't make sense," vice-president Frank Crupi told the crowd to applause.

The company at odds with staff in Greater Sudbury outlined its position over road resurfacing in a town hall on Thursday night. (Ian Campbell/CTV News)

City councillors Bill Leduc, Gerry Montpellier and Michael Vagnini were also in attendance with questions for the Crupis and their team.

Frank Crupi told Leduc RSR was prepared to come in and fix the roads identified by the city at one-fifth the cost that its competitor was quoting for the same project.

He also told Vagnini and Montpellier that they've only had one failure in the dozens of communities they've worked in across the province, that was in Chatham-Kent and that the company is returning there to fix it. The rest of the communities have received their work done on time and found the work to be guaranteed

The project manager at the city who was responsible for the trial run, Miranda Edwards, was the focus of a lot of ire during the town hall meeting. Crupi told those in the audience that she was underfoot several times while the road recycling crew was trying to do their work and calling them out for mistakes for things like the quality in part of the road that had yet to be finished.


He also played a voice recording of someone, whom he identified as Edwards, talking to his employee Veronica. When Veronica offers the city a three-year deal, the person Crupi identifies as Edwards said they're legally obligated to give the city two years.

"Just so everyone understands this, is that Miranda Edwards is Dave Shelsted's common-law wife," Councillor Bill Leduc revealed after listening to Crupi make mention of relatives working at city hall, several times.

Shelsted is the city's director of engineering services, otherwise known as the official who takes care of the city's roads.

Leduc asked Crupi how many times Shelsted showed up to the pilot project while it was underway.

"Not once, not once did he show up to the job. Never came out to see it, one of the most important jobs going on in the city and he never came out to see it, one of the most important jobs going on in the city and not once," said Crupi.

Crupi said he received strange orders from Edwards during the road work, demanding things like sweeping behind the recycling machine.

"I told her, Miranda, I've been doing this for 40 years, not once have I ever had to sweep behind the recycling machine. She said 'Well, it says it here in the contract,' and Scott, the inspector, I finally threw my arms in the air and said 'Boys, pack it all up and let's go. I'm not putting up with this crap anymore,' and Scott walks out with the contract and says 'Miranda, that's not for hot-in-place recycling, that's for milling and paving,'" he said.

"Did she withdraw the deficiency? No. Total incompetence, that's who you have making the decision."

An ungloved hand checking an asphalt roadway. (File image)

The city's report through WSP found the hot-in-place recycling unit failed in several key areas including not being able to uniformly mill the asphalt to the required 50 millimetres depth. The field team noticed unblended chunks of asphalt behind the recycling unit and witnessed an open flame during the heating process.

CTV News, however, obtained the initial pre-engineering report through Wood, a division of WSP, that said a section of the Kingsway from Falconbridge Road to Levesque Street was sitting only at 27.2 mm thickness, meaning the city already wasn't maintaining the required 50 millimetres along most of the affected road.

"There are too many questions here that need to be answered and I think we as council need to get together and hash things out," Leduc told CTV News in an interview.

"This is a huge savings for the taxpayer. It's been proven now for the $8.73 a square metre versus the conventional 'shave and pave' of $50 a square metre, we can be doing these roads, even if these roads prematurely fail, we can do them like five times, six times and still be saving money and still have better roads in the city. This is what the residents asked for and this is what we're trying to give them."

The city councillor said he is shocked at the situation.

"Based on what I'm seeing in those reports, there wasn't enough information there to shut down road resurfacing," Leduc said.

"Sure, if you want to go dig deep, you're going to find something to shut it down. But was it worth shutting this down? Absolutely not and we've done a disservice to our residents. My first question to staff is where is the asphalt that was originally supposed to be there?"

Ward 3 Councillor Gerry Montpellier said he was irked that staff hadn't run any of this past council.


"Staff decided 'let's pull the plug on this thing,' so that's what's upsetting. It should have came to council, explained it or something, but they just decided to pull the plug on this company. That's just another company that won't do business with Sudbury, we're being ridiculed over this," Montpellier said.

"They didn’t have the material to work with and they're the ones that were fired? This company was doomed to failure, they did not have the base to start with and where is that going to go? … It's the taxpayers that are going to pick up the bill."

Crupi said he has no intention of pursuing litigation against the city itself.

"The people came to hear the other side because all you hear is what the engineering group wants you to hear, what they published and what we presented was what actually happened on the job site," Crupi said.

"It was a pilot project, it is a pilot project, you're supposed to come in with an open mind and you're not supposed to try and discredit it before you get it finished and that's what happened here. There is no compromise or looking at this as a potential tool to try and save money."

CTV News asked Crupi to respond to the Wood pre-engineering report that outlined they weren't dealing with a base of 50 mm.

Frank Crupi, Road Surface Recycling co-owner, said a work stoppage was put in place last week by the city, something he said he has never experienced before. (Alana Everson/CTV News)

"In spite of it not being there, we put our best foot forward and tried to achieve as close to 50 as we could. Did we get it every time? No, but it wasn't there in the first place, so we were asked to do the impossible and we were scrutinized for not achieving it," he said.

"When you are dealing with a group of people who are hell-bent on stopping something, they're going to write whatever they want and in this case."

Crupi said the report nitpicked details.

"What they did is they reported details, pinpoint situations. When you're dealing with thousands of tonnes so they're reporting on five kilograms when we're dealing with 8,000 metric tonnes of asphalt," he said.

"You can't be perfect when you're recycling something that the city already owns, they already paid for it and we're they're to renew it and bring it back to life so it'll last another 16 years."

Crupi said the city's move to contact RSR's bonding company four times and then to contact them another time after they made an agreement was underhanded and unprofessional.

"Mr. Shelsted not showing up on the job once, it's his job, he's the director of engineering. It's his girlfriend that's in charge of it and I kind of resent that they're making decisions at 10 o'clock at night. That's wrong, it cost us a lot of money and bad decisions were made," he said.

Crupi said he's hoping Shelsted and Edwards are held accountable for the decision within the city.


It's left many with questions on how the project was terminated, including Ward 2 Councillor Michael Vagnini.

"This is very important to me, especially with the amount of roads in my ward. I want to see what the rest of the pie has, we've only been getting a piece of it. The proof of the pudding is in the crust and I want to see what the rest of the crust looks like I guess," Vagnini said.

Leduc, Montpellier and Vagnini said they all plan to bring this matter forth to council and the discussion is far from over.

Many in the room at the event said they left with a sour taste in their mouth.

"We came here because we wanted to know why this particular company and we found out today, this particular company area wants to move in the area and fix the roads in Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste Marie, which we really need here and it hasn't been done and they get kicked out because of what's going on in the city. It sounds like what's going on in the engineering department but what we heard was astounding, what this company had to go through and they get kicked out of Sudbury," said resident Jim Laframboise.

"Why not give them the chance? Sudbury sure needs the chance to see them fix these roads."

"I'm disappointed in our council because we could be saving so much money for our taxes. We could be putting so much money into our infrastructure and making this a better city," said another audience member, Bob Dupuis.

After the release of its report, the city said it provided a copy to RSR and next steps were being explored.

CTV News reached out to Greater Sudbury for comment from the city and officials involved, on the allegations of nepotism and mismanagement, asking them to clarify the rules in place and in response we received this statement;

"The city won’t respond to unprofessional comments or unfounded accusations from meetings organized by private resident groups. We are happy to provide information to media partners to answer technical or policy questions, however we will uphold our principles of privacy, dignity and professionalism in the workplace and will not participate in the violation of privacy and security of our employees by discussing their personal lives in a public forum." Top Stories

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