Entries in Stuart Harrison (2)

Wednesday
Mar252015

Love me tender...process

The announcement of a new food vendor taking over the food services contract at the Peterborough Airport evoked a bit of an outcry.  The new vendor is Catering by Nikos out of North York and they were in competition with current operators, The Landing 27 Bistro, which is a Peterborough business of just over a dozen employees.  

The situation leads us to ask what is the tendering process?  Is it fair to all involved?  

“The Chamber is an advocate for local opportunity, not local preference,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. 

It’s easy to say a Peterborough business should be given preference, but historically, protectionist measures, while often popular as a political move, are not always good for the economy.  The Canadian Chamber of Commerce addresses the issue in its “Tackling the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness 2015”, under internal barriers to trade.  They say that some provinces with protectionist measures in place are hurting the Canadian economy, in that those measures “distort the market and limit consumer choice” (Canadian Chamber, 2015).

In the City of Peterborough, the Competitive Bid Solicitation Process is governed by the Purchasing Policy
By-law, and the Code of Ethics within this By-law echoes the comments similar to Canadian Chamber.  

"Fair and impartial award recommendations for all competitive processes. City staff may not extend preferential treatment to any supplier, including local suppliers. This is prohibited by the Province of Ontario’s Discriminatory Business Practices Act, as amended, and, in any event, is not good business practice, since it limits fair and open competition for all suppliers and is, therefore, a detriment to obtaining the best possible value for each tax dollar."

The main outcomes of the Purchasing Policy By-law include: 

  • Ensuring openness, accountability and transparency while protecting the financial best interest of the City of Peterborough
  • Maximizing savings for taxpayers 
  • Ensuring fairness among bidders  
  • Providing City staff, with purchasing responsibilities, clear direction on the process

There are three different ways the City can solicit bids:

  • Requests for Proposal (RFP)
  • Request for Tender (RFT)
  • Request for Formal Quotations (RFQ)

In 2014, the City of Peterborough issued 79 bidding opportunities for various projects.  In 2015 there have already been 30 tender closings and 8 that are currently open (at time of writing).   

Each of these requests is accompanied by a supporting document made up of eight components:

  1. Introduction
  2. Closing Date and Time
  3. Opening Date, Time and Results
  4. City Contacts
  5. Instructions to Proponents
  6. General Terms and Conditions
  7. Details and Specifications
  8. Award and Approval   

Plus:

Any supporting documents i.e. pictures of City owned equipment, the space, the road to be fixed etc.  The request will also include a sample agreement, a pre-made coverage page and checklist for the proponents, a document to fill out financial proposals, and a references page.  

Bidders also have the opportunity to ask questions. These questions are answered by City staff then sent out to all proponents involved and each proponent must let the City know that they have received the latest addenda.  

All of this information including questions asked by the bidders and answers from the City are online at the City of Peterborough website: peterborough.ca/business/competitive bid solicitation process

If you are interested in receiving City of Peterborough tenders you can request to be on the list.  

“One thing to remind the bidders is to review the RFT early on when it is released and not wait until the last
minute so they can ask questions and not rush,” writes Sandra Clancy, Corporate Services Director for the City of Peterborough in an email.  

She also explains that businesses can ask for deadline extensions however, “a business would have to give a reason. It does not happen all the time and really should not happen as long as the request for tenders is clear and there is adequate time for bidders to respond but sometimes the RFT is complex or there are delays getting information and it makes sense to extend the closing date. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to extend due to the nature of the work, i.e. construction or scheduling.” Interestingly, the Airport Food Services proposal deadline was extended twice.

The City also provides an outline on which staff (by position) will be on the evaluating committee and how that committee will score each proposal.  

In some cases, the Airport Food Services proposal being one, a mandatory site meeting is scheduled and only proposals submitted by those attendees are accepted.  

The Purchasing Policy By-law also states that “the Director of Corporate Services will conduct a detailed review of the By-law on an as-required basis, but at a minimum, shall report to each Council, prior to the end of its term, with any recommended amendments." The current By-law came into effect on September 30, 2014.  

To answer the questions, the process seems to have a lot of built in due diligence, including commitments on several fronts to openness and fairness.  It’s important that our local businesses be given as much opportunity in other communities as we allow here. In the end everyone wants a competitive process that fuels a healthy economy. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Tuesday
Jan272015

A policy "road" win for the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce

When the provincial government recently announced the preferred bidder for the second phase of the Highway 407 project, it was the culmination of more than a decade of lobbying to see the new highway extend to the 35/115.

Blackbird Infrastructure Group will design, build, finance and maintain the Highway 407 East Phase 2 project.

The Blackbird Infrastructure Group team includes: Holcim Canada Inc., which owns Dufferin Construction and Aggregates. There are several Dufferin locations in and around the Kawarthas. 

The recommendation to government was first introduced at the 2004 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Thunder Bay.  At that time, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Stuart Harrison stood to ask that the policy recommendation include that the road be extended to the 35/115. 

The lobbying continued with a number of Chamber members writing letters to then Minister of Transportation Harinder Takhar.  The letters were in support of the extension of the 35/115 and came from members in the tourism, manufacturing, consulting, and retail sectors.  The member spoke of how the extension would open up the area to new markets, in that more people will be able to access Peterborough and the
Kawarthas, and businesses in this area can move their goods and services through the GTA in a more timely fashion.  

A tip of the hat to the efforts of our MPP Jeff Leal on this important file.

Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2015.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.