Company to have their day in front of Regional committee

APG Neuros building

The office of APG-Neuros. The company is planning to speak at Regional Public Works Committee in March.

While a motion to have a company air their grievances in front of Regional council regarding on-going procurement issues was eventually withdrawn, APG-Neuros looks like they will get to have their say in front of Public Works Committee this coming March. In a brief exchange between Councillor Bob Gale and Regional Clerk Anne-Marie Norio, it was indicated by the clerk that APG-Neuros could speak at the committee level.

Manufacturers of turbo-blowers, the Canadian based company has been trying to speak before council or committee for several months claiming the tendering process for the Port Dalhousie Water/Waste Water Treatment plant upgrades was severely flawed and unfair. On multiple occasions APG-Neuros has had the door slammed in their face by staff and council that, for whatever reason, has refused to let them speak.

Niagara Falls Councillor Bob Gale had been advocating to allow APG-Neuros to speak which has led to claims he is ‘lobbying’ on the company’s behalf. When asked point blank if he is indeed lobbying for APG-Neuros Gale replied, “Absolutely not. I have no connection with this company. They reached out to me and asked if I was aware of the unfairness of this situation.”

Gale said he can’t understand why many of his colleagues on council are so opposed to simply hearing what the company representatives have to say. “This isn’t some Mickey Mouse company; they are a massive company that has been through this process hundreds and hundreds of times. If they are saying something isn’t right then we owe it, not just to them, but to the residents of Niagara to at least listen,” explained Gale.

He could recall past councils making similar mistakes of not hearing from companies requesting audiences with Council to explain problems with procurement processes at the Region.  One of the most memorable instances of this was when highly respected local businessman Tom Rankin asked to address Regional Council about the procurement process involving the Burgoyne Bridge contract.  Rankin was denied the right to speak and express his concerns. The cost of the bridge ended up more than double what was originally cited.

The procurement process during this term of council has been an issue on more than one occasion. APG-Neuros is now the third company to publicly voice their concerns along with two Regional staff members who’ve submitted allegations of wrongdoing under whistleblower protection.

Gale said it’s ironic that so many regional councillors campaigned on transparency but their actions to date show that those campaign slogans were merely empty words.  “I just wish other councillors would stand up for what’s right. I get bad press because I stand up for what’s right. Businesses tell me they are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid to lose business at the Region.”

After council meetings at which Gale would raise issues about procurement he said he would receive emails from fellow councillors telling him he was erroneous in his comments. “I email them back and respectfully ask where I was erroneous and I don’t get a reply.” The veteran councillor knows he is seen as a bull in a china shop at times but says that is just who he is when he gets fired up about an issue, particularly when he’s trying to protect the taxpayer. “I definitely won’t be giving a Justin Trudeau type speech. I just get to the point and make sure things are fair. Sometimes it’s like staff is running council and it’s frustrating.”

However Gale does seem to be gaining more and more support from his council colleagues. “In the beginning I might have had three or four councillors support my motion to dig into something but now that number is growing.” He also made it clear that his attempt to get answers to things that seem unjust is not an attack on Regional staff. “Regional staff are good, smart, hard working people. Ninety-nine per cent are great. It’s the one per cent I’m looking cross-eyed at.”

Gale said it boils down to one simple thing, “We were elected to stand up for things like this.”


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