The issue of having local contractors bid on the sanitary sewer trunk main project came to council Monday night.
It was raised by Councillor Thomas “Bill” Ironstand, who indicated he wanted to see administration bring back information for a vote on how local firms could have the opportunity to bid on the trunk main project.
In particular, he wanted to know how council might “waive the requirement to have these companies previously work on a large-scale project” — which seems to have tripped up the ability of local firms to make a bid.
Ironstand said he was not asking to give the project to local companies — just to give them the opportunity to bid. The local companies are “our tax base,” he said, adding they would also be in a better position to fix problems later. “If something goes wrong, the local companies will be there within hours,” said Ironstand.
But City Manager Randy Patrick responded they can’t give a local preference to this project.
The problem, he said, is that council had already agreed to the engineers’ advice on rules put in place for selecting a bidder for the $15 million project.
The first step was a pre-qualification evaluation process to determine which firms were qualified to do the project. Based on that, four firms — two from Saskatchewan and two from Alberta — met the criteria and are qualified to make a bid.
Those four firms now are able to move forward with the next step, which is the tender.
If council had wanted to change the rules it needed to be done much earlier, Patrick said — at the front end.
“It can’t be made after the fact, because we’ve already had companies now put their investment into this for following the rules that we set out at the beginning. We simply can’t change it without significant issues from a contracting perspective.”
There was considerable sentiment around the table, however, for having local companies involved. Mayor David Gillan indicated he agreed with Ironstand’s point, saying not allowing local firms to bid was “a problem for me.”
Others expressed concern as well. Councillor Kelli Hawtin noted there were two local firms that teamed up to try and put in a bid, and wanted to know if they were evaluated as part of the process.
Ironstand believed the city could still be able to adjust the rules, saying they had the power to evaluate requests for proposals.
“We do have the ability to change things,” said Ironstand, adding “this is our tax base, these people, these companies, their families.” He added he’s had people reach out to him on the issue.
In response, Patrick said he could get a legal opinion and provide it to council on the issue. That will come back to a future council meeting.