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Construction association opposed

Aho argues process doesn't provide best value

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 07/01) - The NWT Construction Association objects to attempts by the Gwich'in Development Corp. and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp. to negotiate the contract with the territorial government to build the new Aurora College campus in Inuvik.

Construction association president Bill Aho told the Drum on Tuesday that negotiated contracts generally are not as beneficial as they're supposed to be.

"There's been a long history of negotiated contracts in the Northwest Territories, and it's never been really proven that they provide the taxpayer with the best value for the dollars spent," Aho said.

He said this also applies in terms of local benefits. Aho said communities like Inuvik stand to benefit through the tendering process, because local firms have an advantage whether bidding for the main contract or subcontracts.

Under the business incentive policy for GNWT contracts, a 15 per cent preference is given for Northern companies over southern firms.

An additional five per cent preference is given for local contractors over other Northern companies.

Aho said that having a negotiated contract in this case would set a "dangerous" precedent.

"You take this to the full extension of what it could mean, does that mean that only those who reside in Yellowknife get to do the work that's in Yellowknife?"

Aho said this would apply to other communities as well. "I don't necessarily agree that's the way that the industry or the government would want things to go."

Aho recently sent a letter to all members of the territorial cabinet.

"The association understands and appreciates the GNWT's desire to negotiate contracts for occasional, relatively small projects in its efforts to foster economic development in some small, isolated communities," Aho wrote.

He then wrote this is not the case with the college contract.

"The two companies seeking to evade competition are by no means fledgling businesses in need of special treatment. The Inuvialuit and Gwich'in development corporations are both perfectly capable of bidding on a par with their Northern competitors."