County won’t hire project man­ager for con­struc­tion

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - JOELLE KOVACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER JKo­vach@post­media.com

An idea to get an out­side project man­ager to over­see ma­jor con­struc­tion projects in Peter­bor­ough County was re­jected Wed­nes­day by county coun­cil.

The idea came from Doug Hut­ton, deputy mayor of North Kawartha Town­ship.

He wanted coun­cil to con­sider find­ing a project man­ager to over­see county projects for the next 10 years.

Hut­ton thought per­haps county staff could use help man­ag­ing ma­jor con­struc­tion projects such as bridge re­place­ments.

“Our staff is pretty busy, to put it mildly,” he told county coun­cil at a meet­ing Wed­nes­day.

There are about 50 bridges in the county that are in need of ma­jor re­pair be­cause they were built in the 1950s, for ex­am­ple.

Hut­ton said an out­side project man­ager might help staff man­age the work­load – and avoid costly over­runs or de­lays.

But county staff didn’t like the idea – and so Hut­ton with­drew his mo­tion be­fore the vote.

County CAO Gary King said it’s un­likely that the county would be able to find an “A-list firm” will­ing to do the project man­age­ment job.

Larger engi­neer­ing firms in On­tario are all do­ing big projects such as build­ing High­way 407, King said.

There are smaller lo­cal firms to choose from, he said – but he’d rather see the county com­pile a list of “ven­dors of record.”

He said that way you’re not ex­pect­ing too much from a sin­gle, smaller firm.

“I’m not sure one firm is go­ing to be the solution of all of your prob­lems,” King said.

Chris Bradley, the county’s pub­lic works di­rec­tor, also saw po­ten­tial prob­lems with hir­ing an out­side project man­ager.

“Adding another level of bu­reau­cracy is go­ing to be ex­pen­sive – and I’m not sure we will get a firm that we can be com­fort­able with,” he said.

Rodger Bon­neau, the deputy mayor of Aspho­del-Nor­wood Town­ship, could see it from staff’s per­spec­tive.

“I think you’re right – tak­ing it out of house is a big mis­take,” he told county staff. “It would cost a for­tune.”

Hut­ton asked Bradley whether staff feels that it has a strong enough vet­ting process to avoid hir­ing a bad con­trac­tor.

Bradley said the vet­ting process is strong: “We’re com­fort­able with it, and we’re con­fi­dent.”

Hut­ton then with­drew his mo­tion, although he said he was glad coun­cil had the dis­cussion.

“I wanted to have this con­ver­sa­tion,” he said.

County War­den Joe Tay­lor said he ap­pre­ci­ated that Hut­ton brought a new idea to the ta­ble.

“I like that kind of think­ing,” Tay­lor said. “It’s crit­i­cal think­ing.”

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