Changes in way tenders assessed prompts Friday meeting at MTCC

By Doug MacKenzie
Cape Breton Post
Sat., May 10, 2008

Sydney - Changes to a local economic development policy prompted a Friday meeting between the Cape Breton Partnership and the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency.

In a February gathering at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, Dan White, economic benefits and planning coordinator for the agency, explained the how the big package for tenders would work, with 85 per cent weighted toward cost effectiveness and 15 per cent focused on economic benefits for the community.

Also explained was the fact any bids with a price six per cent or more above the lowest compliant bid would be rejected immediately. "The major concern is this new (six per cent upset clause) policy was put in place without consultative and collaborative approach with the various business stakeholders and the community," said Keith MacDonald, executive director of the Cape Breton Partnership. "It was a change in an approach which was felt to be very effective.

When we originally developed the 15 per cent economic benefits piece we worked very closely with the project partners so we really dialogued quite a bit about how we can ensure that moving forward we can strengthen our communications between the tar ponds agency and various partners and how we can go about when policies are being developed, that before they are put in place, there can be some kind of discussion with the community on how that will affect the area as the project moves forward."

Alastair MacLeod, chairperson of the community liaison committee for the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup, said Friday’s meeting was necessary to address concerns of the local business community. "Recently the local business community has expressed concern about the sort of lack, or decreasing amount, of consultation regarding the local economic benefits package," said MacLeod, who was pleased to be able to bring local contractors and government together. "We had a big discussion about what the parameters of the problem are and certain things were agreed at the end and the outcome of it is, there is going to be regular consultation between the business community and the government partners to discuss the local economic benefits package so that it is tailored to our needs here in Sydney and the tar ponds cleanup goes along well."

MacLeod doesn’t expect the six per cent clause to cause any delays in the more than $100 million in contracts expected to be tendered in 2008. "I think by increased communication, the good will we saw (Friday) around this table will help to solve these things. We all care deeply about the cleanup and we’re going to work together."