Opening up North Battleford projects to local area contractors is still a hot issue at City Hall, with the issue raised again at a meeting of councillors sitting as the Planning Committee on Monday.
Councillor Thomas “Bill” Ironstand had raised the issue at council the week before expressing concern that local contractors were being shut out of the sanitary sewer trunk main project.
He raised those concerns again at Planning Committee, saying he had received an email from Derek Mahon, former Battleford mayor, whose local group had put in a bid to be the project management team for the trunk main project work.
They had submitted their written application and were the low bid, said Ironstand, but ended up ranked fifth out of six bidders in the evaluation by AECOM and were eliminated from consideration.
Ironstand made the case that Mahon’s company was “quite capable of being project managers.” He also noted no formal interview took place and the decision was made based on the written submission.
“That doesn’t sit well with me,” said Ironstand, who added he has received 30 phone calls or texts from people in favour of his stance in supporting local contractors and suppliers.
But the meeting’s chair, Greg Lightfoot, responded that contract law was quite clear they could not be preferential towards local companies. That also allows them to bid on jobs outside the community.
Director of Operations Stewart Schafer also responded that in the case of Mahon’s company, “he left a lot of information out that we requested.”
Councillor Kent Lindgren raised another concern — that people were now “lobbying council members in our involvement in selecting companies” based on an open tender process.
Lindgren wanted more information brought back to council on the tendering process, in the hope that those rules could be made more clear.
“Now there’s companies that were now contacting a member of council, that has been brought into an open planning meeting,” Lindgren said. “That has me a little apprehensive about that and what that’s done to the process around tendering, lobbying, which are very explicitly defined by the federal government in terms of funding.”