Large contracts shut out local business

The Yukon government has shut out local companies from large forestry contracts, according to one Whitehorse-based forest planner.

The Yukon government has shut out local companies from large forestry contracts, according to one Whitehorse-based forest planner.

Now, Romeo Leduc, president of Duke Wilderness Shows, is demanding the government to “break it up and slow it down.”

Last month, Leduc was prevented from responding to a request for proposals the government solicites to establish a list of contractors qualified to tackle future large-scale forest planning jobs.

The screening process asked for two references from completed planning projects of 150,000 cubic metres or more.

Leduc has no experience with contracts that large.

So he was screened out in the first round and his submission was returned unopened.

“Duke Wilderness Shows was not successful as the proposal submitted failed to satisfactorily demonstrate the capacity and experience required to achieve the current regional planning needs of the branch,” said a letter from Yukon’s forest management branch to Leduc dated May 10.

The government’s tendering process gives unfair advantage to large companies, Leduc told reporters in the foyer of the legislature on Tuesday afternoon.

Yukon companies are excluded from bidding because of the scale of the tenders.

“They put a hard and fast rule that unless you’ve done that before, you’re basically disqualified,” he said.

Leduc’s business is planning timber layouts.

He maps forests and advises logging companies what to cut and what to leave behind and estimates timber volumes.

He’s been in the business since 1993.

In the ‘90s, Leduc planned for 90,000 cubic metres of forests — an estimated $5 million in the logging industry.

The forestry industry has produced little work for Yukoners during the Yukon Party’s tenure in office, Liberal Gary McRobb told the legislature.

In the past few years, nearly $600,000 in contracts have flowed to BC companies.

“Instead of breaking down the tender into smaller pieces so local contractors could qualify, the scale of the tender was set at a high level that was unprecedented in the territory,” said McRobb.

Breaking contracts into smaller chunks is better for local companies, and better forest planning, said Leduc.

Forests change from year-to-year — green timber matures and old timber dies.

So planning for a forest years in the future doesn’t make sense.

“The data they gather now is going to be obsolete 10 years later when they get to harvesting it,” he said.

The government is doing all it can to open jobs for locals, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang told the legislature.

“We maximize the benefits for the communities and are trying to get the contracts out at a size that the community can handle.

“We are getting wood out into the market, out to the communities and working with the industry to maximize local hire and industry.”

Lang refused to give interviews after question period on Tuesday. Spokesperson Albert Peterson said department reps would comment instead.

Over the last two years, 11 planning and mapping contracts worth a total of $350,000 were issued to local firms, said Energy, Mines and Resources spokesperson Ron Billingham.

Two contracts have been awarded to Outside firms. Billingham could not give the value of those two contracts.

“These larger contracts require specific expertise and technology, plus qualified staff in the field and the office to get the job done within our short season,” said Billingham.

To bid on a contract, firms must show expertise in GPS fieldwork, GIS mapping, First Nation and heritage sensitivities, engineering, and drafting environmental reports.

“Sometimes, that’s what large companies can offer that the small companies cannot,” said Billingham.

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