Yukon gov't defends giving $904K contract to N.W.T. firm
'We have followed our proper process,' said Scott Milton, acting deputy minister of Public Works
The Yukon government is standing by its decision to award a lucrative contract to an N.W.T. firm, despite complaints from local companies.
The government has hired Yellowknife-based Taylor Architecture Group (TAG) to oversee the design and construction of the new francophone high school in Whitehorse. The contract is worth $904,086.
"We have followed our proper process," said Scott Milton, acting deputy minister of Public Works. "TAG was chosen because they were qualified and able to do the work."
Some contractors have complained that the contract was not awarded through a competitive process, but Milton rejects that. He said the work was awarded under a standing offer agreement, which "are in fact a competitive process."
"Firms need to compete to get on the list to be eligible to do that work," Milton said.
Larger contract to build school
The list of eligible firms included some Yukon companies, but Milton said the decision was ultimately made to hire TAG.
He said the company was available, and the government wanted Yukon firms to hold out and bid on the larger contract to actually design and build the school.
That rationale puzzles Scott Kent, house leader of the opposition Yukon Party. He said it's not up to the Yukon government to say where and what contracts companies can or should bid on.
"The private sector needs to make those decisions," Kent said. "It's unfortunate that the Liberals now appear to be making business decisions for the private sector."
Kent also questioned why no Yukon firms were preferred over TAG. He said the Liberal government campaigned on a promise to ensure more government contracts were awarded to Yukon firms.
"This certainly flies in the face of that," Kent said.
"We'll certainly have some questions for [the Public Works Minister] when the house resumes here in October."
With files from Nancy Thomson