Town of Iqaluit awards $52,000 contract without tender

Town of Iqaluit official: Planning company has already done 70 per cent of the work.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

SEAN McKIBBON

IQALUIT — A $52,000 planning contract has been awarded to an Ottawa firm by Iqaluit Town Council without the job ever going out for tender.

The Ottawa-based planning company, J.L. Richards, has been working on a general plan for the Town of Iqaluit for months without a contract.

Last week, the Town’s development, works and public safety committee recommended that J.L. Richards be given a $52,000 contract without a tendering process and possibly without new terms of reference. This week, council awarded the contract at one of its regular.

“Some people might criticize us for giving them the contract without it going out for tender, but they have been doing the work and it really did grow out of their work on the secondary plan,” said Matthew Spence, the chairman of the DPWS committee.

J.L. Richards had originally been contracted by the Town to work on a secondary plan, setting out a path for the development of Iqaluit’s downtown core, he said.

“But that meant there needed to be some amendments made to the zoning bylaw,” said Spence.

Businesses object

After an uproar in the business community over some of the proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw, as well as the complication of having three separate documents governing development in the town, Iqaluit Town Council told J.L. Richards to come back with a document that consolidated all of the amendment’s to the town’s zoning bylaw and to develop a general plan.

But at a recent meeting of the DPWS committee, Town project co-ordinator Matthew Hough told the committee there had never been a contract awarded to the company to compensate it for coming up with a general plan.

Hough said the work was about 70 per cent complete, and that the company ought to be compensated for the work they had done.

But it was an idea that didn’t sit well with all of the people on the committee. And some people in the business community say that the work on the amendments to the zoning bylaw should also have gone out to tender.

“J.L. Richards has sort of become the town’s planner, but no one is happy with what they’ve done,” said Colleen Dupuis. Her company put in a bid with another company when the town originally put out a tender for work on the secondary plan.

She said nine companies responded to that tender, and when J.L. Richards was chosen, she said it was understood by the other bidders that the Town would invite proposals the next time any planning work was needed.

So far she says she is not aware of any invitations to tender for the work.

“If this project is 70 per cent complete I’m wondering what it is based on?” said Keith Irving, a committee member.

He said there needed to be more community consultation on the issue and pointed to a recent public meeting J.L. Richards and the town had held on the issue of planning that drew only 12 people.

“I’m not sure this is a good representation of the community,” said Irving. He called for a tightening of the terms of reference on the contract and further meetings with the public.

But Spence said at the meeting that the goal of the Iqaluit council is to pass an improved zoning bylaw in time for next year’s building season.

Hough said that writing more accurate terms of reference would not be a problem for staff, although Spence said later in a telephone interview that new terms of reference could make the contract more expensive.

BIP violation?

Dupuis questioned whether the town was following the Nunavut government’s business incentive policy in awarding the contract.

She said that at a recent meeting held by NTI and the Nunavut government, local business people heard from a Department of Sustainable Development official wjo there was no monitoring or enforcement mechanism, and therefore no way to tell if the town is complying with the BIP.

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