Letters to the Editor

Procurement policy problems?

Dear Editor,

In 2015, several residents of Ashcroft complained that the Village was sole-sourcing contracts for the critical stages of a costly water treatment plant. The Office of the Ombudsperson investigated and learned that work on several components of the project was awarded directly to Urban Systems without any evidence of an open and fair procurement process having taken place. The Village agreed to develop a policy on a priority basis and to apply the policy going forward to ensure consistent and fair procurement actions.

“Procurement that is fair, open and competitive,” the Ombudsperson pointed out, “supports open and transparent local government and helps ensure that local governments receive value for the tax dollars spent.”

It took four years, considerable provocation, and another intervention from the Ombudsperson to finally get a procurement policy drafted. Staff presented the procurement policy at July’s regular meeting. Council made no suggestions for edits or changes and the policy was approved and adopted at the last regular council meeting on August 26, 2019.

There is a catch. When asked, “Had the procurement policy been in place at the time water treatment upgrades were being considered, would the process and outcome have been different?” with no hesitation, the former Chief Administrative Officer answered with a definitive “No.”

Aye, there’s the rub!

In other words, the engineering firm Urban Systems would still have been engaged without any competitive or comparative process being involved. They would still have suggested the need to be proactive and build the facility. They would still have written up the Water Master Plan and assist the Village in its application for a government grant. They would still have controlled the bidding process for the construction and commissioning phases of the project. The proposed costs would have been the same.

You see there is a clause in the procurement guidelines that states, “Prior to any major capital project, the Village’s Engineering firm will provide a report to council advocating the need for the proposed project. Upon council’s approval, the Village’s Engineering firm will be appointed to assist with the project including the grant application/reporting, RFP process and to provide the necessary expertise to ensure the project is completed to industry standards.” The more expensive the proposal, the more the engineering firm makes. This is a conflict of interest.

Conservatively, Urban Systems will make over $1.2 million dollars on Ashcroft’s Water Treatment Plant proposal, approximately 15 per cent of the budgeted amount. And the company has undertaken multiple other projects for the Village.

Long-term sole-sourcing of any consulting or professional service leads to the Village becoming complacent and blindly accepting whatever is presented before them as necessary, inevitable, and advisable. I wonder if Village taxpayers are content, as council is, with the convenience of such an arrangement, and if they believe they are receiving value for the tax dollars spent?

Gloria Mertens

Ashcroft, B.C.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Local Liberal MP Jati Sidhu says he forgives Trudeau for brownface photos

Sidhu says Trudeau ‘didn’t know any better’ and that photos will prompt discussion

Local Liberal candidate says ad showing him with Abbotsford police officer was ‘not acceptable’

Jati Sidhu said advertisement only appeared for 30 minutes and was created by Montreal company

Cache Creek councillor has committee appointments rescinded

Council also presented with need for roof repairs to Cache Creek fire hall

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

HUB Online Network finding its feet, documenting the region

New venture already has nearly three dozen videos up on YouTube channel

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Most Read