Sunday, August 31, 2008

Local contractors express concern over BC Housing contracting policies

It seems to have been a week of interest by locals over governmental policies into hiring, from City Hall to a major apartment complex it would appear that Rupertites would like to know what’s going on!.

A number of local contractors in the city have criticized BC Housing over a recent bidding process for the renovation project at BC Housing’s Mariposa Gardens complex, a 2 million dollar renovation that was awarded to Port Moody’s Yellowridge Construction Ltd.

The local tradesmen and women are concerned about what they suggest is an inconsistent bidding process on construction work done in the Prince Rupert area.

The Daily News outlined those concerns as well as provided background from BC Housing in the August 26th edition of the paper.

Local B. C. Housing bid not done ‘fairly’
Rupertites wonder why local businesses didn’t get chance to bid on project
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Pages one and three

BC Housing is being criticized for an inconsistent bidding process on construction jobs in Prince Rupert.

Ken Lippett accused the provincial housing agency of picking-and-choosing contracts to be tendered.

“B. C. Housing will tender stuff under $5 million – they will tender to mow the lawn,” said Lippett.

“If it’s a for a construction job and it’s under $5 million, well we don’t need to do that.
Lippett is frustrated that the $2 million Mariposa Gardens project was awarded to Port Moody company Yellowridge Construction Ltd. without an open calling for proposals on the government’s catch-all bidding website

B. C. Housing is allowed to hand all ministry contracts under $5 million to contractors without a bidding process.

However, there have been instances in the past when it has tendered contracts for jobs under that threshold.

And one included Mariposa Gardens, which back in 2006 had three bids for a $215,000 project that was awarded eventually to Uni Construction out of Terrace.

Lippett thought that there is a serious flaw in the way that B. C. Housing awards its contracts, which he believes are not metered out fairly.

“It is political and when the bureaucrats run the government agencies and not the minister you end up with things like this,” said Lippett.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons agreed, saying that the B. C. Liberal government risks looking like it gives out special favours to its preferred contractors.

“A fair bid process means that taxpayers can get the best value for their dollar on public projects, and it gives the local companies the chance to do the work on local projects,” said Coons.

B. C Housing said that it has tendered contracts in the Prince Rupert area before and received no bids for them.

Sam Rainboth, manager of public affairs, said: “We have a roster of pre-qualified contractors for projects just like this when there hasn’t been previous response to construction bids and Yellowridge was on that roster.”

Rainboth did say that Yellowridge had hired local subcontractors to actually do all the work, which Lippett acknowledged.

But a local contractor dispute B. C. Housing’s assessment of this particular contract.

“Of course we would have bid on this contract.

“We bid quite often on contracts BC Housing tenders,” said Mark Rudderham, president of Rupert Wood N’ Steel Construction Ltd.

“That’s huge dollars for a small company in a small community and for them just to give it to these guys… jeez.”

Rudderham said that he wasn’t sure that B. C. Housing hiring subcontractors made things even.

“I don’t know who BC Housing says is doing subcontractors, I mean Yellowridge is doing all the work themselves.

They’ve mainly hired kids off the street to do it.”

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