Tar ponds cleanup moving into high gear with more than $100M in contracts to be awarded this year
By Doug macKenzie
Sydney - More than $100 million in
contracts will be awarded in 2008 as
the tar ponds cleanup shifts into full
Vendors and suppliers gathered at
the Membertou Trade and Convention
Centre Thursday for a Sydney Tar
Ponds Agency briefing on project status,
construction schedules, forthcoming
tenders and construction requirements.
The agency held a similar meeting
in Port Hawkesbury, Wednesday.
"We want to put information on the
street of what type of work is coming
up," said agency president Frank Potter.
"Contractors will have a chance to prepare
and be more aware of the type of
work we’re talking about. That’s one
part of it, giving information so they
understand what the real nuts and
bolts of the components are.
"The other part of it, and the reason
we have the Cape Breton Partnership
here, is we’re trying to encourage partnering
here. Some of the contractors
here might reach out to someone else
they can form a partnership with to bid
on a project. Some of the components
are going to be smaller, but some are
going to have larger dollar values that
some of the contractors are not used to
One of the parts of the bid process,
which is designed to keep business at
home, is a split in the evaluation of
each bid where 85 per cent is weighted
toward cost effectiveness and 15 per
cent is focused on economic benefits
to the community.
"It’s an exercise that took a lot of
time, that has a lot of unique features
and has implications which go way
beyond Cape Breton," said Dan White,
economic benefits and planning coordinator
with the agency. "We worked
out some compromises and we have
what I think is a pretty good package."
About the only negative issue during
Thursday’s briefing was the information
that bids with a price six per
cent or more above the lowest compliant
bid will be rejected immediately.
"It was the first time I heard of it,"
said Carl Baillie, vice-president of
Municipal Ready Mix. "We had sat
down as a group of contractors and
other businessmen in the area and we
had worked with the tar ponds agency
on an economic benefit package and
as far as I knew it was set at the 85/15.
This is the first I heard of a six per cent
cap on the tender difference. Potentially,
there could be an American
company come in with a low tender
and no local economic benefits in that
tender and they would get the job as
long as there was no local company
within that six per cent."
White was not surprised by the
feedback regarding the cap, but felt it
wouldn’t greatly affect the bid
"When you put an economic benefits
package in place you’re really saying
you’re going to try to use the project
to drive economic development,"
said White. "The six per cent is there
to ensure the project has a way it can
control the inputs to that economic
development process so that it doesn’t
run the risk of incurring huge cost
overruns for the economic benefits
development that aren’t anticipated.
"What we’ve seen to date and part
of what influenced the six per cent is
that the pricing is very competitive
and very close in cases of projects to
date so we’re thinking that may prevail
and if it does then fundamentally
what will happen is it will work out
well as a policy."