Pedestrian bridge contract approved, Mayor and admin defend tender process

Prince Albert city council officially awarded a tender to ISL Engineering and Land Services to build two pedestrian bridges at a brief special meeting on Monday.

The contact will cost the city $82,000, plus taxes, for the planning, designed and construction of two bridges in Little Red River Park by 2020.

The issue required a special meeting after being voted down at a May 21 council session, and sparked more discussion on Monday after Coun. Evert Botha asked why the contract wasn’t retendered after being voted down last month.

Public Works Director Wes Hicks said he met with both the city manager and city solicitor to make sure the department followed the proper tender process. Hicks was confident there was no need to ask for another round of proposals.

“We believe we are following what (was) asked of us, unless there is some misunderstanding,” he said.

Botha wasn’t the only one wondering why the item didn’t go back out for tender.  Representatives from engineering firm Prakash Consulting Ltd. sent a letter arguing that the parameters of the contract had changed, and therefore the city should put out another call for proposals.

“We are asking for an explanation as to this deviation from the Council meeting, as the terms for two bridges was not part of the RFP,” the letter reads. “The original RFP was quite clear that this was for the design of eight bridges. If  this is in fact what has happened, then this is (an) unfair tendering process. If the terms of the tender have changed, then a new tender should be put forth.”

The letter was included in the consent agenda for Monday’s executive committee meeting, which started shortly after the special meeting of council ended. No council member asked to pull the item for further debate.

When asked about the tender process, Mayor Greg Dionne argued that it would only be unfair if they asked for more proposals, since ISL’s bid was now on the public record.

“It’s pretty hard to retender when the other companies know the prices,” he said.

ISL and Prakash were two of the five companies who bid on the project. The city’s capital projects manager wrote that four of those five proposals were “outstanding” and that choosing between them as a “difficult selection.”