Based on a motion made last night at the first regular Sooke Council meeting of 2018, Council directed staff to re-tender the bid for the reconstruction of the staircase at the end of Murray Road, leading down to the Boardwalk. The contract has already been assigned, and work had already been started.
Staff argued that Council approval was not required.
Staff warned Council of the following complications (Council position in red parenthesis):
- A contractor had already been selected prior to the December 11 meeting. Breaking the contract could result in a law suit.
(This contractor was never approved by Council.)
- A re-tendering of the bid will probably result higher bids, adding to the current cost of the project.
(Council said a seasonal re-tendering might bring in more respondents.)
- People were accessing the boardwalk through other (unsafe) means, adding insurance complications.
(Mayor Tait noted this is the first time Council is hearing about the impact on insurance, adding that this was not noted anywhere in the staff report.)
- Council approval was not required, and the CAO is authorized to approve contracts up to $75,000.
(Council required staff to submit any purchases over $25,000 to Council for approval, by way of a motion made on April 10, 2017.)
- Time was of the essence.
(Kasper observed that it’s already been seven months since the stairs first broke.)
Ultimately, staff argued, everything was done properly and Council approval was not required. Councillor Reay supported staff, saying that unless anything illegal was done by staff, it should not be re-tendered.
The frustration from the other Councillors was palpable. Kasper made a motion to re-tender the bid. Pearson noted the April motion limited the purchasing ceiling of staff (including that of the CAO) to $25,000, adding that a re-tender would “clear the slate.”
Council ultimately voted five-to-one in favour of Kasper’s motion, with Tait, Kasper, Pearson, Berger and Logins supporting the motion and Reay opposed. Parkinson was absent.
Related Timeline (because this is some seriously confusing stuff)
2014 A Delegation Bylaw authorizes the CAO delegated authority to sign contracts and agreements up to $75,000. That Delegation Bylaw, last modified in 2014, can be found online here.
April 10, 2017 Council passes a motion to amend the Purchasing Policy 5.6 to include a statement to the effect that “contracts $25,000 or more, be approved by Council.” This change appears in a draft document considered by Council, though it does not appear in the official Policy 5.6 currently posted online.
(A challenge is that multiple documents appear online in different places on the Sooke.ca website. For the purposes of this article, the bylaws and policies referenced here come from links on their Bylaws page)
June 2017 The District closed its stairway to boardwalk after the stairway to the Boardwalk collapsed when trod upon by elementary school students on a field trip. No one was injured. The District later announced that the Stairs to boardwalk will remain closed for the summer. The broken staircase was later dismantled, using low-cost labour from the prison at William Head.
October Staff put out a call for tender. According to the January 2018 staff report, the tender was live for only one week, between October 26, 2017 and November 3, 2017.
Sometime before December 11: According to a comment made at the January 15 2018 Regular Council Meeting, the work had begun before the December 11 Regular Council meeting. It is important to note that the funds for this project had not yet been secured, and Council approval for this contract had not been obtained.
- Staff asked for $50,000 to be transferred from the Public Space Enhancement account to the Murray Road Staircase project so that a total of $75,000 was available. This was approved and passed by Council.
- Staff asked that that Rolling Tides Construction be approved as the successful proponent for the completion of the repair work for the Murray Road Staircase. Council did not agree to this. Objections were that they were not know the tendering results, and that the wording of the contract award offered only an estimated cost, not a definitive one. The staff report reads: “The successful proponent was Rolling Tides Construction and the cost of the repairs is estimated at $75,000.”
At that time, staff could not answer Council’s questions about the selection process including the number of applicants. So, Council asked for a more comprehensive report.
January 15, 2018: Staff give a report to a Council, stating Council approval was not required and that the request from staff at the December meeting was “erroneous.” Staff only meant to secure the transfer of funds, which was approved by Council. This January staff report states the cost more definitively: “The tender closed on November 3, 2017 and only one bid was received (from Rolling Tides Construction in the amount of $74,000).”
- Present: Mayor Maja Tait, and Councillors Bev Berger, Ebony Logins, Rick Kasper, Kerrie Reay, and Kevin Pearson.
- Absent: Brenda Parkinson
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