City council went to bat for the private sector at Monday evening’s meeting when it voted against extending two longstanding contracts at its landfill.
In a 4-3 vote both times, council decided to issue public tenders for the gatekeeping and transfer station operations at the waste management facility.
Raven Recycling, which has held the gatekeeping contract since 2000, would have had its contract extended another 12 months at a cost of $176,658.
The Tle’nax T’awei Group has operated the transfer station since 2009. Although the city opened that contract to public tender back in May, the lowest bid was significantly higher than the city estimate and the contract remained with the T’awei Group.
Their 12-month extension would have been at a cost of $82,597.
Coun. Kirk Cameron was behind the push to offer more opportunities to the city’s private sector.
He raised a red flag as Coun. Betty Irwin read her report on behalf of the city operations committee.
“This isn’t the approach you want with the private sector,” he said. “Extending this contract for another year isn’t appropriate.”
Councillors Irwin, Stockdale and Gladish were strongly opposed to the public tender idea.
Coun. Irwin said keeping the status quo would be more efficient for the city, since Raven has run the gatekeeping operations for almost 15 years.
“We’re heading into the holiday season and everything shuts down for two weeks,” she said. “It’s a bad time to solicit tendering.”
Cameron put his hand up.
“I’ve been up late on the 24th of December writing proposals,” he replied.
Brian Crist, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations, said opening up the tender process would mean awarding a contract of between three and five years, in order to make it financially viable for companies.
He explained that the city usually puts landfill contracts up for tender, but these were exceptional situations because the positions are “quite specialized.”
Coun. Gladish said he felt uncomfortable with that option, arguing the turmoil with the recycling issue this year would affect a lengthy contract.
“A one-year extension gives administration time to settle everything,” he said.
Coun. Streicker addressed Gladish’s concerns by saying that, although council respects recommendations made by administration, it has the last word when it comes to choosing contract lengths.
“I hope Raven can bid on this,” he said.
The gatehouse at the landfill is open 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff open and close the facility, operate the weigh scale, apply the fees and charges, and direct customers to appropriate areas for deposit or disposal.
The transfer station, meanwhile, allows the public to separate or dispose of its waste at a location away from the landfill.
In both cases, Cameron suggested the contracts be extended one month until the tender process could go through.
And in both cases his motion was carried. The contracts will expire on Jan. 31.
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