It willl be another two weeks before a proposed $1.4-million contract for the design of the new city services building comes back to Whitehorse city council.
At its April 14 meeting, council members were unanimous in voting to postpone the decision to the April 27 meeting.
City staff are recommending the contract to design the new building go to Kobayashi and Zedda Architects (KZA) after receiving four bids for the work. Two didn’t meet the technical requirements to open the separate envelopes containing the prices for the work.
While KZA and another passed the technical requirements for that pricing envelope to be opened, it was found the prices didn’t match the work outlined. Legal advice was sought by the city on that bid and it was confirmed that bid should also be rejected, leaving KZA’s as the only bid to meet the requirements.
A number of council members, however, have raised questions on the matter and highlighted concerns brought forward from industry on the process.
As Coun. Laura Cabott said, while city staff have provided some answers from an earlier meeting about the contract, more questions have been raised since then. She questioned why of four bids received only two were deemed to meet technical requirements and then one of those two was deemed non-compliant.
Wayne Tuck, the city’s special projects engineer, explained at an earlier meeting the process sees staff first look at the technical components of project team, past experience, methodology and schedule with proposals requiring 80 per cent in that evaluation for the price envelopes to be open. When the price envelopes are open, the prices need to match the work required.
Cabott, however, said there are still questions coming forward from those in the industry given that the technical package initially was approved. The lower bid was $400,000 less than KZA’s, she said.
The city does not specify amounts that were bid except for the recommended contract award.
Cabott also pointed out that KZA has worked on earlier projects that have led to this one — a 2015 project on building consolidation for the city and the 2019 conceptual design of a services building.
“There are too many unanswered questions,” she said, adding she couldn’t support awarding the contract at this point. Councillors Samson Hartland and Dan Boyd were also vocal in their support for another look into it, with Boyd stating his hope for a more in-depth legal review. While other councillors said they didn’t want to see the contract put off for too long, they were willing to support a two-week delay.
Coun. Steve Roddick commented there is nothing leading him to believe proper procedures were not followed, but at the same time he did not mind waiting a couple of weeks.
Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu, Jan Stick and Mayor Dan Curtis also made similar comments, though made it clear they didn’t want a delay that could hold up the entire project.
“I would not want to see this project delayed,” Stick said.
Questioned about the project timelines, city manager Linda Rapp noted the funding available through the federal and territorial governments for the project runs out in March 2023 so it’s important that the contract be awarded this spring.
The services building is being planned to be built next to a retrofitted City Hall in the next two years, after the new downtown fire hall opens and the current fire hall next to City Hall is closed and demolished to make way for the new building.
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