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Auditor general to look at Greater Sudbury's procurement policies, procedures

A motion to review Greater Sudbury's procurement policies and procedures was passed during a short city council meeting Tuesday night.

In what might be one of the quickest Greater Sudbury council meetings in recent history, the public meeting started 45 minutes late and lasted roughly 30 minutes.

The motion from five city councillors and the mayor asks the auditor general to review the city's policies and procedures around procurement and the management of capital projects and vendor performance.

This comes after questions about the termination of a road recycling project surfaced at a town hall meeting organized last week by the 'Our Towns, Our Cities' organization.

However, the elected officials maintain that the motion had already been in the works for months and had nothing to do with the situation that surfaced at last week's town hall.

"You know, I haven't been, in terms as councillor, long enough to know the deficiencies necessarily, but what I did know is we only had one company bid on the Pioneer (Manor) work," said Coun. Mike Parent.

"And I think that we're hoping by a review of our policies and procedures maybe there are opportunities to improve and encourage other companies to come work with us."

Parent said the motion is about getting the best product for taxpayer dollars.

"The city has done a great job over many years trying to make sure we're getting the best value for the dollar of the taxpayer, but there are times where we have to maintain that confidence," he said.

"We need to step back and look at our policies and procedures. I think a lot has changed after the pandemic and let's make sure we have the most current controls in place and when we spend this kind of dollars we're maximizing what we can get for that kind of money."

Greater Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre also endorsed the motion.

"What are other municipalities doing? What are their procurement processes? Is ours – the one that we have where the lowest bidder gets the job," Lefebvre said.

"From all the sectors across the city, we want to get the best value and just not the lowest bidder gets the job as well."

The motion passed unanimously.

In an interview Tuesday night, CTV News asked the mayor what message he would have for those trying to understand why the road recycling pilot project work was halted.

"So listen, this is a group of individuals that got together, I'm chair as council. I'm focused on the agenda that we have at council and that's what I'm focused on and that's why we make sure we have the best procedures and best policies that we can possibly have," Lefebvre responded.

"That's why we have an auditor general and we've asked him to review, just not on that sector, but on all of our procurement sectors across the city."

Three city councillors who attended the town hall – Bill Leduc, Gerry Montpellier and Michael Vagnini -- have since been admonished by the city's CAO, Ed Archer, for their behaviour at last week's meeting.

In an email to Leduc, Archer writes:

"Today, I talked with several people about the effects your choices are having on staff. It is important that staff feel their workplace is a supportive, safe space for them to do their best work. Your comments and actions impair their ability to maintain such a feeling. This is unacceptable.

So, until further notice, I am directing you to limit your contact with staff such that all inquiries you have about growth and infrastructure services be sent only to me and only via email. For absolute clarity, you should not contact growth and infrastructure staff for any reason. Staff will be instructed not to engage with you directly."

Archer's email to Coun. Montpellier and Coun. Vagnini said in part:

"While the social pressure in a public meeting could inhibit a person from doing the right thing and speaking against the prevailing sentiment in the room, notwithstanding its clearly defamatory and injurious nature, your role as elected officials compels you to address mistruths and misinformation about municipal staff and the corporation. You did not do so and this should be corrected."

CTV News reached out to the CAO to clarify if he was expecting councillors to defend the city no matter the situation.

The response reads: "Communication between staff and members of council regarding employee matters are confidential."

Two of the three councillors who were in attendance at last week's town hall, Leduc and Montpellier, were noticeably absent at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Leduc was seen leaving an in-camera meeting. Top Stories

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