If things need to be built in a hurry, public tenders fly out the window.
Actually, the Yukon government throws them out the window, according to deputy minister of Highways and Public Works Marc Tremblay.
“If we had three years to (build the Canada Winter Games athletes’ village), absolutely everything would have gone through public tender, more than likely,” he said.
“If you have all kinds of time, and you’re not so concerned about what day you can walk through the door, you can let things slip, and people don’t have to necessarily have demonstrated the same level of competence.
“But when you don’t have the time, you go with the people with experience as opposed to taking a chance with people who have not been able to demonstrate their capability.”
So, when the Yukon government found the athlete’s village project plopped on its lap in February 2005, it decided to hire Alberta project manager James Graham.
“There’s not a lot of project management experience around, in terms of big projects,” said Tremblay
“And, James was able to come in and put the project together on behalf of the government, very rapidly.”
Graham put the plan together and made the recommendations, and the government chose to do the sole sourcing, said Tremblay.
“It went to management board and the decision was made to accept his plan.”
But to put the project plan together, Graham brought several other companies onboard, including the Edmonton architectural firm Barr Ryder.
“He actually put a team together and they came up with a project outline,” said Tremblay.
Ketza Construction, Barr Ryder and Mike Frasher were all on that team.
And the government, after sole sourcing Graham, followed his recommendation and offered his planning team sole-sourced contracts too.
“All the government collectively made a decision to do these sole sources in the best interest of getting the project moving,” said Tremblay.
“It’s the biggest residential project ever done in the Yukon. And (the planning team) have access to a lot of resources and they have more experience on big projects like this.”
Unlike its two Albertan cronies, Atco Group’s $9.7-million contract was not sole-sourced. It was tendered by invitation.
This is when the government calls up several different companies and ask them to submit proposals.
“There are only a couple of companies that had the capacity, and they were asked to submit their bids,” said Tremblay.
“I think it turned out that there were only two that submitted bids, but I think there were three or four that were asked.”
So, Atco wasn’t sole-sourced.
But in making the decision to go with prefabricated housing modules, fingers immediately pointed at the global giant.
“Once you decide on that type of structure, there are very few people in Canada who can do it for you,” said Liberal MLA Pat Duncan.
“So, once you’ve made one decision, it leads to another, to another, to another and the issue becomes — how did we leave the good advice and experience and expertise of the Yukon contracting community behind on this issue.”
“The reason we have modules up there — the reason we have one of the most expensive housing units ever in the history of the Yukon — is because of incompetence by the Yukon Party government in advancing this project,” said Opposition Leader Todd Hardy.
But Tremblay said the project had “all-party support.”
“It was very positive, and it was very non-partisan in terms of how it all came together.
“Once (the parties) were briefed and understood the situation, there was pretty good support for proceeding and moving forward in the way that we did.”
Alberta-based Atco Group and the Canada Winter Games go way back.
Well beyond the 141 prefabricated housing modules it supplied the athletes’ village with, for $9.7 million.
“Atco’s been involved with so many different Games over the years,” said the corporation’s manager of communications Cathy Drever.
And yesterday Atco announced it was giving the Games $300,000 of the $9.7 million back.
Coming onboard as an official supplier and sponsor of the Games, the global giant will donate additional modular units, bonded security personnel and computers.
Yukon Electric, a subsidiary of Atco will also supply electrical services for the Games.