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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

3-4 vote awards Gore Road/Concession 8 rehabilitation

by Sylene Argent

Despite hesitations and concerns from some members of Council, a 3-4 majority vote awarded a Request for Tender for the cold recycled asphalt surface treatment rehabilitation on the Gore Road, from Wright Road to Essex County Road 20, and Concession Road 8, from Coulter Road to Ferris Road, to Norjohn Contracting and Paving Limited for $549,157, who was the sole bidder on the project.

  This issue was first dealt with at the July 16 meeting. After much debate, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott motioned to table the file to provide Council members time to do a little more homework. In a recoded vote to award the tender, the motion was carried in a 3-4 vote, with Councillors Bondy, Voakes, and Rogers opposed, and Councillors Snively and Bjorkman, and Deputy Mayor Meloche and Mayor McDermott in favour, at the Regular Council meeting, on Tuesday, August 7.

  At the July 16 meeting, Councillor Randy Voakes believed the selected process had failed in the past and said if specifications in the RFT were a little more open, there would have been more bidders. He said he doesn’t like to see work going out of the community. Councillor Larry Snively said he also would not support the process. Councillor Sherry Bondy had a worry the road may not last as long as a mechanically pulverized road. 

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Mayor Ron McDermott were in favour of the process, noting members of administration are experts on the matter.

  Director of Infrastructure and Development Chris Nepszy had said when it comes to the processes for construction, to him it is irrelevant who can do the work locally, what administration looks for is what is best for the roads. He added that the process has not failed. He said there were issues in the first year the process was used locally. In the second phase, modifications were made, and there were no issues.

  He had said Administration uses five different road reconstruction processes. In this instance, administration agreed unanimously the cold road recycle was the best process for this road, Nepszy had said.

At the Tuesday, August 7 meeting, Councillor Voakes submitted two, 30-second videos for Council to view; one highlighting the condition of the Concession 9 and the other Gesto Side Road. He said one was done with the cold recycled asphalt and the other a more traditional method. They were done around the same time, and neither were in bad shape. He gave credit to both companies for their work, but, he said, as a responsible Council, members have a decision to make, whether they want to spend tentatively more.

  During the meeting, it was noted Council members received an email from a local contractor, who Voakes later noted could not bid on the current RFT due to the specifications set, which indicted this company could do the work with a more traditional way for, much less than the tender came in for the cold recycled asphalt.

  “If Council wants to spend this money, I won’t be along for the ride,” Voakes said.

  Councillor Bondy wanted to see the RFT reissued in January, after a new Council is elected. She thought if issued then perhaps the Town could get a better deal than later it being issued later in the summer.

  “My job is to be fiscally responsible. It’s about time-sensitivity,” she said. “Sole-sourcing is expensive.”

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, however, both said members of administration are paid to be experts. Other area businesses, Bjorkman added, do not offer the process the tender called for. Meloche said the cold recycled asphalt maybe more expensive, but “maybe it’ll be worth it in the long term,” he said.

  Mayor Ron McDermott couldn’t believe how administration was being “thrown under the bus” over the situation. He said staff are not up for re-election, they need to keep their jobs.

  Voakes called a Point of Order on the Mayor for suggesting any opposition to the RFT was political grandstanding.

  “It’s about being responsible to taxpayers,” he said, adding he would have the same stance at the beginning of his career as a Councillor or headed into the 2018 municipal election.

  Essex resident Dave Cassidy, who is a local business owner and an executive with UNIFOR, approached Council as a delegate at the meeting to speak about the Town’s procurement policy, especially when it came to this issue.

  He watched the previous Council meeting on Youtube and was floored when the subject cold recycled asphalt came up.

  The Mayor interrupted Cassidy few times when he began talking about financial figures as he said Cassidy had to stick to the issue of the Procurement Policy and not focus on the bids.

  Cassidy questioned the Town about its road specifications and why local companies don’t bid on the process. He also wondered why the project was issued at “crunch time,” in the summer and nearing the ‘lame duck’ council state that applies restrictions, especially since the budged was approved last fall.

He wanted to know if there was data to support cold recycled asphalt, and said it is troubling how local companies who invest money in their equipment couldn’t bid.

  Director of Infrastructure & Development Chris Nepszy said he can’t speculate who local companies didn’t bid. He said different processes are available to resurface roads.

  “I’m frustrated on my end. This is the fourth year it has come to Council. The last two years, there were no issues.” He continued the cold recycled asphalt was the resurfacing method selected for this road as there were concerns with the roads’ bases.

  “You never know what you are getting into,” he said. “They are in a happy state.”

  Snively said he is strong on local people doing the work, but noted professionals are hired to do the work.

  Cassidy said he hoped the Town would get a Procurement Policy that would be more inviting to local companies. “It would be successful,” he said.

  Council received Cassidy’s presentation.


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