County won’t hire project manager for construction
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.”