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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

100 Mile woman arrested after dramatic incident in Ashcroft

Diane Carol Priester allegedly rammed police cruiser in attempt to evade capture

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

TNRD purchases property for new Ashcroft/Cache Creek Eco-Depot

New facility will be built at former chip reload plant site off Highway 1

Ashcroft council supports curling club and rink in 2020 budget

Budget includes funds to do necessary equipment upgrades at curling rink

Grant allows Ashcroft seniors to benefit from music and memories

New program will help seniors at Thompson View, Jackson House, and beyond with the gift of music

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

No dramatic shifts expected as B.C. government tables new budget today

Finance Minister Carole James has promised to stay the course when she tables the budget in the legislature

AFN national chief calls for calm on Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Most Read