Last week, Woodbine Window Coverings owner Norm Smith learned a $52,000 contract to put blinds in the athletes village was issued without competition.
It went to Dominion Fairmile, a Vancouver-based company that was sole-sourced the $980,000 contract to manage construction of the village in July 2005.
Smith and at least three other Whitehorse contractors had hoped to bid on the contract, and were assured it would go to tender.
That was in October.
“We had intended to tender these furnishings,” said Community Services Games project manager JoAnne Harach on Wednesday.
But Dominion was simply handed the job.
“It was not sole-sourced,” added Harach.
“That is an error.”
Was it tendered?
“No, it did not go out to public tender,” she said.
Dominion was sole-sourced a contract to manage all the trades on-site, said Harach.
“And they could turn around and tender for two-or-three years — OK! Or they can just go out and do it.”
This is what is best for the whole project, she said.
“We have been scrambling from day one.
“So, if Dominion needs to buy a piece of two-by-four, or a door, or a stepladder, they go and they do it — that’s what fast-tracking is all about.
“That’s what construction management is all about, and that’s why the government went this model for construction.”
But a two-by-four, a stepladder, or a door, won’t cost $52,000, which is what Dominion was paid to supply and install the blinds.
According to government regulation, contracting authorities must issue a public request for bids for any contract over $50,000.
That didn’t happen.
“We used construction management,” said Harach.
“So, we’re within the contract regulations, and we’re within our contract with Dominion.”
Harach asked Dominion to order the blinds in early January, opting to focus on furnishings after the bulk of construction was complete.
“I’m not going to have no heat in the building, or not going to have inspections done because I’m worried about putting out a tender for blinds,” said Harach.
“You priorize — OK.”
Construction finished December 4th, said Harach.
But there was still a lot to do.
“We have to pay these people, we have to progress claims, we have to do inspections — we have a whole heck of a lot of work to do with 30 contractors on site.”
And does this take priority over public tenders?
“No, you have to do it all,” said Harach.
The blinds weren’t tendered because there wasn’t time, she said.
Not so, said Smith.
The blinds were ordered in early January.
Even if the job had been tendered, there would have been plenty of time to get it done, he said.
“I can guarantee you, any one of a number of local suppliers could have bid this job mid-January and had those blinds installed before the Games started,” said Smith.
“So the excuse they ran out of time is nonsense.
“We bid on tenders for YTG all the time, and there are lots of tenders with huge dollar values that close within three or four days — that’s not a problem.”
Smith just finished a job at the Yukon Inn, installing curtains in 50 rooms.
It took him a week.
“And putting in curtains is a hell of a lot harder that putting in blinds,” he said.
“That job at the college would have taken us all of three or four days. And our supplier could have supplied us within two weeks of ordering, not a problem.”
So, why was the contract handed to Dominion?
“We had no time,” said Harach.
“We had no time — we ran out of time — we ran out of time.
“I’m not giving you the answer you want,” she added.
“We ran out of time; we priorized our construction projects; we focused on our construction projects; we’ve delivered our construction projects — now we’ve delivered the furnishing.
“Some people are unhappy — I’m sorry about that.
“The focus is to deliver the project on schedule, and on-time — we have done that.”