SNC Lavalin picked as a consultant for Squamish diking project

One councillor raises questions about allegations against company

Photo: File photo/Shutterstock

A company that's made headlines for charges of fraud and corruption has been selected by the District of Squamish to design and inspect 200 metres of sea dike, as well as a new water access.

The District will be giving SNC Lavalin $248,792 to be a consultant for the project, which will be built on Xwu'nekw Park, which is by the canoe shelter at the Mamquam Blind Channel.

While council voted unanimously in favour of choosing SNC as a consultant for that project during their Jan. 21 meeting, there was some discussion about the company's history.

Coun. Chris Pettingill noted that the company has been making headlines lately.

For example, The Globe and Mail reported a unit of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud related to activities in Libya. It will pay a $280-million fine and receive a three-year probation order, the paper reports.

Shortly before that, The Globe also reported that an SNC official was convicted of corruption charges concerning the company's dealings in Libya.

"SNC Lavalin has been in the news a lot, and so, it made me wonder: do we have the equivalent of a criminal records check for businesses [as] part of our [request for proposals] process?" said Pettingill.

The municipality's general manager, Gary Buxton, said no such process exists.

"There is no process to follow. You can't do a criminal records check on corporate entities," said Buxton. "So you're relying on the news, which is sporadic at best."

Buxton said the company has a global reach, but the District will be dealing with corporate staff in the Vancouver office.

"[There's] lots of legal background on when you can and cannot blacklist companies and we are far from being at that point," he said.

Concerning design, council previously supported using a sheet-pile type dike located at the average high watermark.

Regarding funding, the upcoming draft financial plan has budgeted $6 million, with the expectation that $4 million will come from provincial and federal grants.

Any unspent funds in 2020 would be carried forward to future year flood protection projects.

Squamish Chief