Rock to Road

Cambridge keeps contentious paving contract

May 26, 2010  By  Andy Bateman

May 26, 2010 – An article in yesterday’s
demonstrates how the competitive bidding process can go awry.

Cambridge, Ont. city council won’t cancel a
$5-million paving contract it never put out for competitive bids, despite calls
from other local paving companies for a “fair and transparent” way to spend
taxpayer money, said the report.

A year ago, Lafarge (Coco) Paving was
awarded a $7.1-million contract to pave 42 kilometres of two-lane city streets.
The city had a $12-million fund — two-thirds in make-work grants from Ottawa and Queen’s Park —
for a city-wide street repaving blitz.

In October, city staff asked the province for permission to extend the
contract for another 26 km of street paving, at the same prices as the original
contract. In April, Lafarge (Coco) was given
the extension


The way the city handled the $12-million project incensed the Conestoga
Heavy Construction Association.

Calling for bids on projects is the best way to get the best price for
taxpayers, said Emilio Cabral, president of Regional Sewer and Watermain and
spokesperson for the local construction association. It’s the way business is
done province wide and is city policy.

“Our tendering process has been tossed in the trash box, that’s how we
feel,” Cabral said. “Put it back out for tenders. It’s the right thing to do.”

Council didn’t respond to Cabral’s calls for scrapping the contract and
calling for tenders for the extra $5-million paving job. Cabral said the city
would likely be sued by Lafarge (Coco) for
upwards of $1 million if the contract were cancelled.

Cabral called it “a good penalty for the city to learn never to have
this happen again.”

Taxpayers were “hoodwinked” by Mayor Doug Craig and chief administrative
officer Jim King, who she blamed for approving the Lafarge (Coco)
contracts without council review.

“Mr. Craig, do the honourable thing and resign,” Fatima Pereira said.

Craig didn’t respond directly to Pereira — who was eventually silenced
when the podium microphone was turned off—but was ready to meet with
contractors again on the issue.

Before the contentious contract, the city was already talking about
reviewing its purchasing rules, Craig said.

“I think that has to be done — that’s obvious.”

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