City purchasing process irks local business

A Whitehorse contractor is questioning the city's approach to working with local businesses.

A Whitehorse contractor is questioning the city’s approach to working with local businesses.

Phil Bastien, the president of Paradigm Digital Signage, was in the running to sell a digital sign at the Canada Games Centre but after several years of back-and-forth, the contract was eventually awarded to an Ontario-based business.

Bastien said that his vision may have ultimately been grander than what the Canada Games Centre was looking to install, but he questions why management went through the lengthy process they did to pick what he called, in the end, a relatively simple installation.

“Why go through that process when it’s just as easy to go buy something off the shelf with a screen that you can put text and images on? Why go through that sort of process for something as simple as that? I just thought it wasn’t good planning.”

Bastien offered to perform a site survey to determine the best location for the sign, taking into consideration traffic flow, mounting technology, screen types, lighting, audio and other factors, he said.

“There’s a whole bunch of things they didn’t do,” he said. “I was willing to go up there and walk through the building with them and they treated it as they already knew what they were doing.”

Krista Mroz, program supervisor with recreation and facility services, said the vision at the Canada Game Centre was always small in scale.

“It was a departmental project, specifically for the front counter to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency,” she said.

The city considered four vendors, including two local businesses, after conversations with other recreation facilities and trade show and conference information, said Mroz.

From there, city staff received demonstrations from four of the vendors.

“After careful consideration and recommendations from other facilities, staff choose the product that was more appropriate for our intended application,” said Mroz.

Bastien said digital signage is important IT infrastructure and “to treat it like buying a fridge is irresponsible.”

“I don’t want to come across as sour-grapes, but I just think the city needs to be held accountable for how they work with local businesses.”

Contact Sam Riches at

sam@yukon-news.com

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