Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Prince Rupert's roads of good intentions, will be paved by an out of town firm with an eye on the cost savings!

See note on correction to this story at bottom of page.

When the discussion ended Monday on City Council's summer paving plans, two Councillor's Barry Cunningham and Nick Adey held to the mantra of Buy Local, with the city councillor the only one to vote against awarding this years summer paving contract to an out of town firm.

The decision to award the 804,000 dollar contract to the Kitimat firm C and C Road Maintenance came following a report from the City's Director of Operations Richard Pucci, who participating by phone,  outlined the reasoning for the award for the Council members as that of a significant difference in the final cost from the two bids received.

The main element that swung the contract towards the out of town firm was the cost saving of $203,079 that their contract offered compared to the other competing bid from Prince Rupert's Adventure Paving.

The conversation which followed the report, consumed one third of the Council meeting on the night as city councillors explored a range of themes from support for local business, to a desire to revisit how the city pursues procurement options.

While all council members paid their fealty to the desire to buy local, Councillor Niesh seemed to speak for most of them as he outlined why he was in favour of the out of town bid.

"Well, It would be really nice to support local business, but unfortunately the 25 percent difference you know,  it just doesn't make sense ... unfortunately, this happened last year, or a couple of years ago when we paved the downtown and we had an out of town company come in and they were able to do the same work for a lot less and they proved to be a good contractor and we can only hope that this happens in this situation too and that we end up with some good work done, and maybe in the future Adventure Paving can you know do other works with us" -- Councillor Wade Niesh

Councillor Adey observed as to how local work does bring strong community benefit and is not money that is drained out of the community, though he did make note as to how the cost savings were significant.

"I do think we need to recognize that if you pay a local company then a good portion of that money is coming back into the community, so it's not money draining out of the community. So I think that needs to be taken into account, I also think along the lines of Councillor Niesh that on a very basic level, it's pretty simple the cost savings are significant and need to be taken seriously" -- Councillor Nick Adey

The Councillor also directed a question to the Director of Operations as to whether the Kitimat company would be setting up operations in Prince Rupert during the project and making use of local services such as accommodation.

In reply Mr. Pucci noted that the company had indicated that they wished to get the work taken care of in a fairly quick period of time.

"The company is out of Kitimat, I suspect that they wouldn't be taking shelter here in hotel rooms I would suspect that they would be doing long hours. They've told us that they want to get all the paving done in a quite short span, so they'll be working long hours to get all the paving done at once. I don't know the answer to that, but it's not that far for them to go back and forth so I suspect that they'll be going back and forth"-- Director of Operations Richard Pucci

Councillor Cunningham appeared to be the one who struggled with the decision the most, noting the city's call to shop local, observing as to how all of the workers at the Prince Rupert based firm live in the city, while raising a number of questions related to the project and the firm.

The Councillor relayed a number of concerns and themes as part of his talking points on the prospect of awarding the contract.

"It's a tough one, all the employees of Adventure Paving are local residents who spend their money in town, we've been pushing shop local .

Their employees (C and C road construction) are they all Kitimat residents or are they bringing people in from other areas, that might be a question you can't answer. But during the pandemic, we were pushing that no outside visitors come to town, and now we're contracting out a company, that is an out of town company coming to town when the pandemic restrictions that we we're thinking of putting in place, would still be in place if our act of Emergency had gone through.

It's just a few things that bother me about this, I gotta agree with Councillor Niesh, in that 200,000 dollars is a lot of money, and the city can't afford to throw it up in the air and have it disappear. But at the same time I really like to see us shop locally and that and you know there are some considerations here that I think are outside of the perimeter of a normal contract ... 

You know that plant alone that Adventure put in is worth over three million dollars and I"m quite sure that increased their taxes in the industrial park when they did that. So there's a few things here that I think in the future we should take into consideration cause we don't always have to get the lowest bid.  And that's part of the paperwork when you see it, at the same tine I think that local companies should sharpen their pencils the first time around" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

Mr. Pucci did not have a firm timeline in place as of Monday towards when the work would take place, though he did note that they hoped to have it taken care of at one period of time.

What to do with the 200,000 dollars in savings also made for some note from Councillor Mirau, with the City's Financial Officer noting that it could be put to use for patch work paving, emergency repairs and other projects as they come up in the future.

Councillor Randhawa wanted confirmation on the status of any warranty work that may be required once the company has move out of town.

Mayor Lee Brain noted how the contract award required council to balance a number of elements towards a decision.

"I think it is a tough one, cause you have a company that we would definitely want to support obviously because they're a Rupert based company But I also thing that we have to find a balance between accountability to the tax payers and supporting local business. 

I think the taxpayers of this community, if we consciously chose to go 200,000 dollars to a local business, I mean we have been for the last six years basically trying to get the taxes under control and get the revenue in and now we have an ability to save tax payers money, you know at 200,000 dollars of cost. 

You know, as much as I personally want to support a local company, I can't in good conscience go and over spend when you know you can save that 200,000 dollars and get additional value for what the taxpayers are paying for which is to get the road works complete. 

So, for me I definitely will support the recommendation because it's a 25.3 per cent savings to the taxpayers and we will also get an additional 200,000 dollars worth of paving done and we know this community has been wanting  that to be done. 

You know it's unfortunate that you know the bids didn't come in where we need them, but this isn't the first time that we've had to chose an outside company who's money, where the value is greater there, when it comes  to to cost savings. We always support local business as best we can, but in this circumstance the savings is great and I think we need to make sure we are doing what is right for the taxpayers ultimately" -- Mayor Lee Brain on the Summer paving contract award 

Councillor Mirau also observed as to how the discussion on the paving project could lead council towards new methods for future procurement policies.

"I think it's pretty obvious that there's an appetite on Council to support local as much as possible. I think obviously the question that comes from this particular example is at what cost. And obviously a 25 percent premium is not palatable, but all I wanted to comment on is basically to say is that we need to be clear on what we mean when we say supporting local, it's more than just payroll. Both of these organizations have ownership groups that are not local, so there is also an equally important element of local purchasing and how much do these companies from out of town actually buy and source materials and supplies and equipment from local businesses. 

I am looking forward to the day that we have the capacity at the city to implement a Social Procurement Policy, because I think there is that appetite across council to look at how we can use our procurement strategy to maximize more than just the bottom line but also have some social and environmental benefits as well" -- Councillor Blair Mirau on civic procurement policies

Councillor Cunningham followed up on that theme to suggest that Council call in some of the major contractors in town to a meeting about procurement to explore where the city would like to go with them  and have them work with the city.

"This is just an example and obviously there is a reason why there is a difference in pricing. You know I know for sure that Adventure Paving is all union, I don't know about this other company. And on top of it, I would like to see residents of Prince Rupert working in Prince Rupert and not having to go out of town and pave in other areas simply because some other outfit, that I don't know the first thing about other than what I've been told by different people ... You know I just find this very difficult to support a project where the money is all going out of town" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

With no further discussion on the topic, Council then voted to approve the contract by a  6-2 vote, with only Councillors Cunningham and Adey casting dissenting votes.

To reinforce his decision,  the councillor asked that the Mayor make note of his vote against the contract award for the council record.

You can review the full discsussion towards the Paving award from the City's Video archive, starting at the one minute mark.

More notes on the city's infrastructure challenges can be explored here.

An overview of Monday's Council session can be found from our Council Timeline feature, while a wider review of past Council discussion themes is available here.

Correction: Please note the above article on the Paving contract has been corrected from its original state to note that Councillor Adey had voted against the contract award. That dissenting vote was not apparent during the course of the meeting as there was no verbal vote, rather a show of hands, which is not something visible to residents viewing at home, that owing to the presentation of the Council session on the live stream.


  1. alternate headline - cunningham votes to raise youur taxes by 2% to make his friends happy

  2. You have enough time to ypdate the story with a correction but not enough to post my comments? the hypocrisy of this anonymous blog calling for transparency ...

    1. Calm down angry person, we don't sit by the computer to post the comments 24/7, we check through the day! So perhaps a little patience eh! ... No comments are posted until they are reviewed for the reasons listed at the bottom of the page on the right hand column. As the above "alternate headline" comment is the only one received so far on the story of concern, you can now take a deep breath and share your themes with all your friends ...


    2. not anger at all; just disappinted. you avoided answering the point so let me make it perfectly clear: its become so ridiculosly obvious you are friends With cunningham and are trying to make him look good in your blog. despite the fact he basically called for bid fixing which is illegal

    3. To reiterate, since you don't seem to understand a simple explanation, I do not check the comments every hour I check them on Occassion normally twice a day. They do not get approved until I have vetted them for slander and other elements as described in message found at bottom right of the blog. Comments are not the most important aspect of the blog for me, they merely reflect what has been responded to. Perhaps you are one of the legions of Facebook fans in town who demand instant gratification of your commentary. As for being friends with Mr. Cunningham, I have never met with him, nor spoken with him on the phone or communicated by electronic or written means, I merely recounted his side of the story (seemingly shared by another councillor who you choose not to make the focus of your comments). I will leave it you to share your thoughts on price fixing and such with him.

      Thanks for your input