Sudbury

Only two companies submitted bids for KED construction contract

Only two companies have submitted bids to design and construct Sudbury's Kingsway Entertainment District, in response to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the city. Concerns from Coun. Geoff McCausland over competitiveness led to a dustup with the Mayor during Thursday's city council meeting.

Concerns over competitiveness led to dustup between Mayor and Coun. McCausland

Two companies have submitted bids to design and build Sudbury's new event centre. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Just two companies have submitted bids to design and construct Sudbury's new event centre on the Kingsway, in response to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the city. 

In January, the city announced that three companies had been short listed for the RFP process. But the deadline was Thursday, and only two companies submitted bids: Ball Construction Ltd. and PCL Constructors Northern Ontario Inc. 

EllisDon Corporation, which had been short listed, did not submit a bid. 

That news lead to a dustup during Thursday night's city council meeting, between Coun. Geoff McCausland and Mayor Brian Bigger. 

McCausland raised concerns over the fact that Dario Zulich, the site developer, is the CEO of TESC Contracting Company, which partnered on Ball Construction's bid — which is now competing against just one other company. 

Geoff McCausland is the city councillor for Ward 4 in Greater Sudbury. (Submitted by The City of Greater Sudbury)

McCausland said he's heard concerns from many residents, but said until now, he was confident "that the process was legitimate," because there were two other large companies also involved in the competitive bidding process.   

He said it was "alarming" to see that only two companies had submitted bids, meaning less competition. 

"We're down to two bidders on the largest investment in our city's history, and we've lost EllisDon. I find this disappointing news for the whole community," McCausland said. 

The Mayor interjected as McCausland spoke, suggesting the councillor may have contravened city rules. 

"It seems to me perhaps that you have engaged with a proponent in the midst of a procurement process that is not yet complete, not yet awarded," Bigger said, which is prohibited by the city's code of conduct and purchasing bylaw. 

Mayor Brian Bigger took issue with McCausland's line of questioning, and directed staff to shut off his microphone. (Yvon Theriault/ Radio-Canada CBC)

McCausland, however, said he simply was sharing information that is available publicly online

"I'm asking a legitimate question," McCausland said, as the Mayor directed staff to turn off the councillor's microphone. 

The city's CAO, Ed Archer said with bids received that same day, it's too soon for the city to know why EllisDon didn't compete. 

"It won't be possible for us to give you a response about why a bidder didn't submit a bit until we have an opportunity to communicate with that bidder and learn more specifically after this process is finished what their feedback was that prohibited them from participating like the other two pre-qualified bidders appear to have been able to do," Archer said. 

The tender process the two companies are competing in is a new one for the city. Early this year the city announced it would be issuing a "progressive" design-build RFP, where the successful project team works with the city in several stages, approving costs along the way.

The city says this process has a number of advantages, including more opportunity for the owner to provide input on the design, transparency of project costs and less chance of disputes. But it also comes with some risk, since a construction cost is not agreed to at the time the contract is signed. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at sarah.macmillan@cbc.ca

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