City council was closed to the public due to COVID-19 on March 23. Some Whitehorse city council members are expressing concerns over the potential award of the contract for the design of the proposed new city services building during a council meeting on April 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Councillors question contract for new city services building design

Only one bid of four deemed compliant

Some Whitehorse city council members are expressing concerns over the potential awarding of the contract for the design of the proposed new city services building.

The award would go to Kobayashi and Zedda Architects, which has been involved with a number of earlier related contracts, going back to 2015.

“The case is being made that the contractor had a distinct advantage,” Coun. Dan Boyd said during the April 6 council meeting where the contract was discussed, bringing forward concerns he says he’s heard from the industry.

Wayne Tuck, the city’s special projects engineer, brought forward the recommendation Kobayashi and Zedda Architects be awarded the $1.46-million contract.

The services building is being planned to be built next to a retrofitted City Hall in the coming years, after the new downtown fire hall opens and the current fire hall next to City Hall is closed.

KZA, he told council, submitted the only compliant bid of four that came in.

As Tuck told council, two proposals were found not to meet the technical criteria needed to open the separate envelopes detailing price and local preference.

The first part of the evaluation looks at project team, past relevant experience, methodology and schedule. If they do not score 80 per cent in that evaluation, the proposals are not considered further.

It was found after opening one of the bids that passed the technical requirements that the prices did not match the work required. Tuck noted through looking at the price information it was learned items were missing and there were other issues in the first part of the review, which would have impacted the technical results as well.

Tuck said legal advice was sought on the matter where it was confirmed the bid should be rejected.

As Boyd and some other councillors told Tuck though, there’s concern being expressed by the contracting community that KZA had an advantage on this contract, given it had a 2015 contract that looked at the earlier building consolidation plan the services building is coming out of as well as a contract in 2019 for a conceptual design of a services building.

Coun. Laura Cabott questioned whether there is any industry standard that would prevent a firm from putting forward a proposal for a contract it had worked on previously under another contract.

She argued it would seem to put competitors at a disadvantage.

Tuck maintained there was no such rule in place and noted the conceptual design was a separate endeavour essentially looking at the basics of what the services building could look like.

“Everyone was given a clear chance,” Tuck said.

Boyd, however, indicated he’d like to look at potential options for council in considering the contract — possibly putting it to a fairness monitor — before council votes on the matter.

Meanwhile, others such as Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said while she understands the concerns of councillors who spoke up, it appears all the policies were followed in determining KZA as the successful bidder. She argued this may be something to consider though as the city moves forward in looking at drafting a new procurement policy.

Coun. Jan Stick also noted the processes followed to get to the recommendation including getting a legal opinion on the matter.

While much of the discussion focused on the contract award, Coun. Steve Roddick voiced his concern the building be constructed as efficiently as possible with Tuck noting that will be looked at during the design.

Council is scheduled to vote on the contract April 14.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Whitehorse city council

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