Councillors balk at big money no-bid for Morrisburg arena

In this Feb. 7, 2017 photo from South Dundas, the township received a $315,000 Ontario Trillium Grant to replace the ice surface at the arena. Council will be sole-sourcing the design work but will be putting the construction to tender. (South Dundas via Newswatch Group)

MORRISBURG – Over a half million dollars in work to the Morrisburg Arena won’t be sole-sourced, but the design work will be done by a select firm.

Council decided last week to hire Barry Bryan Associates of Whitby to do the design work. The firm had done designs for the Williamsburg and Winchester arena pads as well as roughly 50 Ontario municipalities.

But the actual work to replace the single concrete pad and maybe do some additional construction by levelling out and paving the southwest corner of the aging building, outside the rink surface, will go to tender.

The township received an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant of $315,000 in February and has matched those funds in its 2017 budget to replace the pad at the arena at 28 Ottawa Street.

During the council discussion, the whole idea of giving the large contract to a company didn’t sit well with a couple of councillors.

“I don’t like sole sourcing to be honest with you for $600,000 plus. That’s a chunk of change. I can live with that…if they can do that immediately,” Coun. Archie Mellan said. “I can’t understand the time frame but for sole sourcing that kind of money…wow.”

The township is working with a tight timeline, trying to get the work done after the completion of the annual Spring Home and Trade Show (April 21-22, 2017) and before the hockey season in September. The intent is to have a firm in the arena on the Monday (April 24) after the trade show.

The problem is getting the architect to create the scope of work and have that proposal for a tender package altogether, all within the next five weeks.

“I’m not fussy on sole sourcing anything. But to get part of the funding and get it expedited as far as the scope (the architect). As far as the floor and the work, that’s big money to be sole sourcing,” Coun. Marc St. Pierre added.

“On sole sourcing, if I could get local people I wouldn’t be sole sourcing. I understand the concerns of sole sourcing,” Recreation Director Ben Macpherson responded.

CAO Shannon Geraghty told council the township stands to lose “thousands of dollars” through having hockey teams moving to other municipalities if the ice isn’t in my mid-August.

Geraghty proposed to “invite” the five firms that bid on the North Dundas arena contracts to bid on the Morrisburg work.

“It’s going to be advertised that this job is going on and if there’s any local contractors and they know anything about it, they’ll be on your doorstep looking for a tender,” Coun. Bill Ewing warned.

CAO Geraghty was quick to add that the work will be advertised, as well as inviting the five previous bidders in North Dundas.

The motion of sole source the arena work to a firm in Smiths Falls was formally defeated in a council vote.