Victoria council requests more oversight on bridge building

Proposals to win bridge contract delayed by a month

The three companies vying to build a new Johnson Street Bridge are busy perfecting their bids.

But the role of Victoria’s elected officials in the decision to select a winner was the source of a lengthy closed-door discussion Thursday.

Coun. Ben Isitt expressed concern that city council will not be presented information about all the proposals submitted, but instead will only be informed about the bid recommended by city staff. Council’s role will then be to approve or reject the recommendation.

“I can understand why disclosure to public would be problematic, but can you explain why disclosure to council is problematic?” Isitt asked.

City lawyer Tom Zworski felt the answer required a closed-door meeting, and council voted to retreat to a private room. The discussion held up Thursday’s public governance and priorities committee meeting for nearly two hours, after which council returned to report on a compromise.

Council will now have two decision points. Once members approve a proposal, based on staff’s recommendation, the bridge team will then negotiate the exact terms of the contract with the winning proponent. Council will then have a second opportunity to approve or reject this contract.

Coun. Lisa Helps is satisfied with the new terms.

Not getting the chance to weigh all three bids will be “hard to stomach,” she said. But she acknowledged that the evaluation committee has the right people on the team and councillors don’t have the expertise needed to evaluate engineering proposals.

“I feel very confident in this process,” she said.

The whole selection process has been postponed by approximately one month.

In late August, the city extended the closing date for receipt of proposals for the bridge contract. The three companies shortlisted for the opportunity were granted until Oct. 18 to submit their fixed-price proposals.

The extra month allows proponents more time to ‘discuss potential design optimizations with the City,’ according to city communications staff. Once the deadline passes, the city’s bridge team will take several weeks to evaluate the three proposals before taking its recommendations to council.

As of last week, the project is progressing under the direction of a new senior project manager. Ken Jarvela, who started Sept. 17, was hired after Mike Lai resigned from his post as project director July 6.

Jarvela is a civil engineer who was recently project manager for the $160-million Blue Water Bridge project spanning the St. Clair River between Ontario and Michigan.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Colwood square dancing open house to welcome in new dancers

“It’s therapy,” said long-time square dancer Linda Townsend

Green candidate expects a tight race in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke

David Merner says Green Party would act as “strong moral conscience” in a minority Parliament

Christian bookstore’s Victoria location marks 80 years in business

The store opened on corner of Douglas Street, View Street in 1939

Tour Government House and other homes, enjoy art along the way

The Art Gallery’s 66th annual House Tour features artists at work, artistic floral displays

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

Nanaimo company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

Most Read