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City contract draws fire

Pre-engineering contract for new arena

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/01) - The city's contracting policy for the new arena project came under question during a special council meeting Monday.

City council decided to award the pre-engineering building contract to PCL Constructors Northern Inc. but a competing firm questioned the equity of the move.

NNSL Photo

PCL is a national company with an extensive Northern presence. Hovat is exclusively Northern.

-- Hovat bid $1.53 million for the contract.
-- PCL bid $1.47 million.
-- Permasteel Construction bid $1.54 million.

Hovat Construction Ltd. sent a letter to city council through lawyer Garth L. Wallbridge outlining some concerns over the decision.

Yellowknifer never obtained the letter, but Coun. Robert Hawkins said the letter questions the citys move to award a sub-contract to the company that is overseeing the project.

The letter essentially said (PCL) will be monitoring their own work, said Hawkins.

They were also concerned that they are running the project and also successfully bid the lowest.

There is nothing in territorial legislation that prevents a firm running a project from bidding for sub-contracts in the same project, said Max Hall, senior city administrator, during the meeting.

In the south, construction managers are not allowed (to bid for sub-contracts), but in the North its allowed because of lack of competition, said Hall.

Coun. Dave Ramsay said he was uncomfortable with the decision to award the contract to PCL and cast the lone opposing vote.

I have a great deal of uneasiness with a corporation getting a contract and working both sides of the equation, said Ramsay.

Hall said there was no financial advantage.

Its fairly easy to determine whether the process was equitable, said Hall.

Coun. Alan Woytuik also raised concerns about who would monitor what.

Hall said the monitoring onus falls on the citys consulting firm in the project, PSAV Architects Ltd.

Council retreated in camera to hash out the issue and returned to vote in favour of awarding PCL the contract.

Hawkins said the city could have faced a lawsuit if council voted against the recommendation.

If we re-evaluated our position wed be sued and liable for the profits they would have made, said Hawkins.

Hawkins wants the city to consider excluding construction managers from bidding on sub-contracts.

Ramsay wants the city work on buying from and awarding contracts to local firms.

We should move in that direction so in the future were not faced with this travesty where the local guy doesnt get the contract, said Ramsay.