Back­hoe ten­der un­earths prob­lems

Clarke’s Beach coun­cil, un­der threat of legal ac­tion, re­scinds ten­der call


A red-faced town coun­cil in Clarke’s Beach has re­scinded a ten­der call for a new back­hoe af­ter a sup­plier of heavy equip­ment ac­cused the town of un­der­min­ing the true spirit of the Pub­lic Ten­der Act.

A se­nior of­fi­cial with the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs also cau­tioned the town to “ be care­ful,” the town’s deputy mayor, Kevin Hussey, said dur­ing a pub­lic coun­cil meet­ing Feb. 28.

The con­tro­versy sur­rounds a re­cent ten­der call by the town for the sup­ply and de­liv­ery of a new rub­ber­tire back­hoe. The clos­ing date for ten­ders was March 4.

The ten­der spec­i­fi­ca­tions said the town re­quired a “ JCB 214S or equiv­a­lent” model with four equal-size front and rear tires.

The prob­lem is JCB is an ac­tual man­u­fac­turer of heavy equip­ment.

The sup­plier of a ri­val model of back­hoe, Stone Val­ley Equip­ment Ltd., took is­sue with the JCB ref­er­ence in the ten­der call and com­plained to the town, Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and the Gov­ern­ment Pur­chas­ing Agency.

“ The spec­i­fi­ca­tions ap­pear to favour a par­tic­u­lar model of ma­chine …,” Randy Crane, gen­eral man­ager of Stone Val­ley, wrote in a letter to the town.

Crane added the spec­i­fi­ca­tions ap­pear to be “clearly writ­ten around this ma­chine, and ap­pears to elim­i­nate any competition.”

Crane said he had dis­cussed the mat­ter with of­fi­cials from the gov­ern­ment, and “it is our opin­ion that Stone Val­ley Equip­ment, as well as other equip­ment deal­ers, may have legal re­course if this ten­der pro­ceeds in its present writ­ten form.”

The is­sue gen­er­ated a heated de­bate at the Feb. 28 meet­ing, with coun­cil vot­ing 4-3 to re­scind the ten­der and start over. Mayor Betty Moore, Hussey and coun­cil­lors David Moore Jr. and El­don Snow voted in

This JCB 214S back­hoe was pur­chased by the Town of Bri­gus in late 2005.

favour, while coun­cil­lors Garry Ben­dell, Roland An­drews and Win­ston Vokey op­posed the mo­tion.

Coun­cil was ex­pected to meet late last week to restart the process.

Mayor Moore said she and most other mem­bers of coun­cil did not see the spec­i­fi­ca­tions, which were com­piled by Coun. Ben­dell, who chairs the town’s pub­lic works com­mit­tee.

Most coun­cil­lors agreed the ref­er­ence to JCB should not have been in­cluded, but that was not enough for coun­cil­lors to reach a con­sen­sus on the is­sue.

An­drews ex­pressed frus­tra­tion to­ward Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, and sug­gested of­fi­cials with the depart­ment “stay out of it.” And on the threat of legal ac­tion, Andrew stated, “ let them take us to court.”

Ben­dell said he fol­lowed the same pro­ce­dures used by the Town of Bri­gus in late 2005. In its spec­i­fi­ca­tions, Bri­gus also ref­er­enced a JCB model, but there were no com­plaints from po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers. Bri­gus even­tu­ally pur­chased the JCB for about $126,000 from Harvey and Com­pany Ltd., said town man­ager/ clerk Wayne Rose.

“ The ten­der­ing process has likely changed a lot in the last five years,” Rose told The Com­pass.

Stone Val­ley was the los­ing bid­der on the Bri­gus ten­der.

Mayor Moore said it’s not good enough that coun­cil fol­lowed the lead of an­other com­mu­nity. “I don’t think (Bri­gus) did it right ei­ther,” she said. “ This has to be done so it’s fair to ev­ery­one.”

Mayor Moore de­scribed the is­sue as yet an­other set­back for coun­cil, and noted “ we’re be­ing looked at” by Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs be­cause “ we have so many black marks against us.”

In fact, an of­fi­cial with the depart­ment is ex­pected to meet with coun­cil on March 9 to dis­cuss the roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mem­bers of coun­cil.

Mean­while, Ben­dell said there was no in­tent to un­der­mine the Pub­lic Ten­der Act. But he em­pha­sized that the town should have the right to spec­ify ex­actly what it’s look­ing for in a back­hoe.

The town plans to use the back­hoe for snow­clear­ing and gen­eral main­te­nance.

Garry Ben­dell is a coun­cil­lor with the Town of Clarke’s Beach.

Betty Moore is mayor of the Town of Clarke’s Beach.

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