Letter to the Editor – Burritts Rapids conceptual design

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Dear Editor,

I am writing from Bishops Mills concerning the article in the October 14 edition related to the Burritts Rapids conceptual design. I don’t want any reader to think that I have a problem with Burritts Rapids getting funding to develop a hamlet plan. Hopefully, it can serve as a template for the other hamlets, as we would benefit from one as well. I have a couple of issues, though, with the tendering process that occurred, and the subsequent use of my tax dollars. The NG tendering process as outlined on the website states: “The Municipality of North Grenville encourages competition among suppliers in order to maximize savings for taxpayers. The purchasing process is transparent and equitable ensuring fairness among bidders.”

At the June 16 Council meeting, the proposal to go out with the RFP was agreed (report number PW-015-2020). The Burritts Rapids reserve fund was noted as holding $47,290. The bids that were received were addressed at the October 6 council meeting (report number: PW-023-2020). Council accepted the staff recommendation to grant a contract to WSP that was over the planned budget and is over double the lowest bidder. The review notes that both of the lower bidders were disqualified from consideration due to elements I understand were related to the level of detail for the historical elements.

Having myself assessed contract bids, it is unusual to not simply reduce a score for an element rather than disqualify the proponents completely. The report, excerpted below, clearly notes that those disqualified are “qualified consultants” and offered lower bids. The outcome of disqualifying the two low bids meant that WSP, with a bid much higher than the reserve, and higher even than the budget that was later identified, was the only qualifying bid at this point. It is interesting to also note the frequency that WSP wins NG tender processes, though this information is a challenge to find other than a google search of the bidder and NG, as there does not seem to be a searchable database for NG contracts.

When I think of the pandemic situation, and the challenges that families and local businesses have of staying afloat, I want to think that my Council is looking for ways to NOT spend my tax dollars, and thus provide some relief. This contract award goes against the stated NG tender principles in my opinion.

Excerpt is below from their document concerning the disqualification of the two low bidders (bolding added):

Although both proposals met the general requirements of the RFP and were submitted by qualified consultants, each proposal lacked significant detail on one out of the two major aspects of the project. This project consists of two major design aspects: an engineering design and an architectural design. For the sake of this project, the engineering design will focus on the technical functionality of the Municipal infrastructure in the hamlet while the architectural design will focus on the aesthetic “feel” of the hamlet as a means of maintaining and restoring the historical character of the community. The proposals from GHD and EVOQ both lacked depth in one of these aspects (engineering or architectural design). As both other proposals were disqualified from the competition, WSP was the only proposal which was officially evaluated financially and consequently it is recommended that WSP be awarded the contract.

Name withheld by request.

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