Councillors question bid scoring, still award procurement for $200,000 worth of wastewater work


Lunenburg awarded CBCL Engineering a $200,000 deal for pre-design work on the Starr Street wastewater treatment plant and discharge outfall system, but not before civic politicians. concerned about the procurement evaluation, went behind closed doors to talk about the matter further.

During a recent council meeting, councillors Susan Sanford and Ed Halverson, along with Deputy Mayor Peter Mosher, expressed reservations with the request-for-proposal's scoring emphasis.

CBCL's bid was the highest of three submissions for the job.

CBCL "may be the best according to this weighting system," Halverson said at one point, "but we have to make sure we look after our taxpayers' dollars."

Uncomfortable with the scoring formula, and perception of the town appearing over-reliant on one company, Sanford was the sole politician to vote against awarding the $197,799 tender.

However, town engineering officials said the criteria used to weigh the three bids is subjective, and doesn't change the technical experience and understanding of the project demonstrated by the successful applicant.

CBCL is one of the largest consulting engineering firms in Atlantic Canada.

Lunenburg's chief administrator, Bea Renton, said applicants for the job were notified before submitting a bid of CBCL's previous connection to wastewater work within town. It was noted that all bidders were notified of CBCL's involvement in preparing the procurement's terms of reference. Renton suggested the onus is up to prospective applicants to take that into consideration before filing paperwork.

Much of CBCL's previous work with the town was won through a successful public procurement process.

"CBCL have robust engagement plan with the town for interaction and reviews with staff and also reviews and engagement with the council. As CBCL know the town well from previous work, they do understand well this need," a written staff report authored by town engineer Dennis MacPherson, and engineering consultant Ian Tillard said, in part. "Contact with CBCL references are very favourable regarding their history and ability to provide successful engineering support for similar pre-design projects."

CBCL will look into the plant's short- and long-term upgrades for the process equipment, assess the building's condition, and examine options concerning outfall. The work, which is expected to wrap by Canada Day, involves option selection, plans, layouts and estimates.

Town engineering officials said many components in the plant are nearing end of service.

While there have been some updates to keep the plant operational, officials noted, there have been problems in the past, mostly blamed on the facility's design.

"While functional, the outfall location has caused significant negative feedback from users of the harbour and related facilities," reads Tillard and MacPherson's report. "The key causes are the location of the outfall, as it discharges above the high water mark into a shallow harbour area and the occasional carryover of polymer" from the plant.

"There are some external factors, such as salt water intrusion and flooding, which have exacerbated the operational problems with the plant," the report added.

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