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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read