For nearly three decades, critics of SkyTrain have been complaining about two large Montreal-based companies that obtained many large contracts.
Bombardier is a supplier of SkyTrain cars and SNC-Lavalin has acted as a project manager, engineering consultant, and, in the case of the Canada Line, a partner in the management company.
On Tuesday (May 14), the city's relationship with SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier will be debated because of a motion brought forward by NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick.
She's seeking the support of council to instruct staff to conduct a "thorough review", including the procurement relationship.
Bombardier Transportation, which is a division of Montreal-based Bombardier, is now headquartered in Berlin.
Hardwick wants council to tell staff to report back about how a planned extension of the Millennium Line along the Broadway corridor could be affected by a "criminal prosecution for corruption charges" against SNC-Lavalin.
In 2013, SNC-Lavalin was debarred for a decade by the World Bank in connection with corruption in Bangladesh.
She also wants council to ask staff to explain the potential impact of a World Bank audit of Bombardier in connection with different corruption allegations.
In addition, Hardwick hopes council will support her call for city staff to consult with TransLink concerning "any proprietary rights or bidding advantage of SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier for the SkyTrain Millennium Line extension and the ability for other firms to bid competitively".
She's hoping that this information can be supplied before council makes any decision on a phase 1 extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street, as well as a phase 2 extension from there to UBC's Point Grey campus.
TransLink says there's nothing proprietary about SkyTrain
A report to the TransLink Mayors' Council on April 25 stated that SkyTrain is a "brand name" but not a technology.
The TransLink report also stated that linear induction motors, which are on Bombardier cars, and communications-based train-control systems are not proprietary.
That's because companies other than Bombardier supply these technologies, according to TransLink.
Moreover, the report declared that SNC-Lavalin "has no proprietary role" in the function and delivery of construction and engineering services to build SkyTrain.
Hardwick, however, remains concerned about corruption allegations around the two companies that have played the biggest roles in supplying rapid transit to the region.
None of the recent corruption allegations have been proven in court.
"Ongoing media reports since February 6, 2019, have exposed the current status of corruption charges related to SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., involving alleged bribery and fraud," Hardwick's motion states. "In the wake of a failed bid for judicial review, the appearance is that Public Prosecution Service of Canada is likely to proceed with a trial rather than a negotiated settlement agreement."
Her motion also points out that the New York Transit Authority announced in January that it's halting delivery of new subway cars from Bombardier until existing vehicles are fixed.