with thanks to : “Arte” Johnson (Rowan and Martin)
with thanks to Castanet
A local (Penticton area) waste management company believes something stinks about the way the City of Penticton awarded the contract for the community’s residential garbage and recycling pickup.
At last week’s regular meeting, council followed the advice of public works manager Len Robson and handed the seven years contract for residential waste pickup to (BFI) Waste Connections, the multinational giant that held the previous contract.
This, despite the fact that the Waste Connections bid came in more than $100,000 above the bid from Appleton Waste Services, which is based in Okanagan Falls.
“It’s very disappointing to see that the City of Penticton has decided to go with more of the same, for more money,” Appleton Waste Services owner David Appleton said.
Appleton’s bid, $992,895 per year, was the lowest of the four companies that applied through the RFP process, yet it scored in a tie for last place, tied with another losing company that was nearly twice as expensive.
Waste Connections won the contract with a higher bid, $1,098,305 per year, due in part to their existing track record and previous experience in the field, according to Robson.
“If you deal with a smaller company that is making ends meet, they don’t have the depth of company, they can run into contractual challenges or obstructions where they want more money for different service that you implement,” he told councillors last week.
That’s a point Appleton calls “utterly ridiculous.”
Although the company has been in business just four years, Appleton says his firm has grown “at least tenfold” since they purchased Okanagan Waste of Summerland at launch. He is also a former vice president of Waste Services Inc., which has since merged with the very same company he lost the Penticton contract out to.
“The contract from 10 years ago… I put together the bid that was last accepted by the city of Penticton for this very work,” he said. “The assertion by Len that we don’t know anything about this cart collection is utterly ridiculous.”
Appleton also points to a larger residential collection contract he holds with the City of Edmonton as proof that his company is more than experienced enough to handle the task locally.
The local business owner claims Robson is putting too much value on his preexisting and several-year-long working relationship with the big company when scoring the proposals.
“Having worked for the big companies in this business before at a pretty senior level, I know how it works,” Appleton said. “I unfortunately don’t have the budget to pay municipal affairs directors hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to go around and try to make these things happen, like what what we are seeing right now, to push guys like me out of these markets.”
Robson’s report to council last week indicated that qualifications, experience, resources of the firm and past performances/references account for a total of 20 per cent of the scoring. The proposal itself is weighted to 50 per cent, while price fills out the remaining 30 per cent.
“Obviously I’m close with Waste Connections, because I’ve been working with them for seven years, so I know the people, I know the service that’s been provided,” Robson told Castanet on Monday, acknowledging his previous interactions with the company play a part of the decision.
“If the company is a challenge to work with, or has not provided the services I expect, that would impact things,” he added, refusing to comment on if that was the case with Appleton Waste Services.
He also refuted Appleton’s complaint that beyond a “curt” two-minute phone call, the local company never got a chance to explain or address any perceived problems with their proposal.
“When a clear proposal comes in, you know, that they know, what they are getting into,” Robson said, admitting they usually take the submitted paperwork at face value when it comes in.
“If they are local, it should show in the proposal, it should show in the pricing, it should show on the whole submittal, it should naturally come out,” he said, cautioning giving against municipalities preferential treatment to local business.
“A company might reside here, but does very little business here, and all of a sudden you are handcuffing them” when they pursue contracts outside the community by encouraging other cities to do the same, he said.
Robson says he is open to speaking with Appleton to provide a detailed breakdown about where exactly his proposal fell short.