Another attempt at ‘shop local’ for city contracts

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The city will explore whether it can give a local company a taxpayer-funded municipal contract, even if it’s not the lowest bidder.

Couns. Justin Towndale and David Murphy successfully got council to OK a move for staff to bring back a report on whether the idea is on the up-and-up.

Under the proposal, council would be able to give a contract to a local firm, provided it was within five per cent of the lowest bid or within five points when a bid is calculated on a scoring system.

Towndale and Murphy believe there’s some wiggle room in the wording of one of the clauses for its procurement policy.

This issue has been dealt with in the past, where city council had to backtrack on a decision last year after it decided not give a pharmacy contract to an outside firm for Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge, even though it was recommended by administration.

Councillors have been passionate about supporting the local economy, even to a fault.

Several years ago, an exchange between Coun. Andre Rivette and then-CFO David Dick got physical outside the council chambers after a contract for computers didn’t go to a local firm.

Council has received legal advice several times in the past that it can’t give preference to bidders based on their geographic location.

The report is expected in the coming weeks.