Tenders for quarry debated at council

Fort Frances town council passed a resolution to award sale of the quarry site on the west end of town to the highest bidder, Dennis Robinson Ltd., despite protests from representatives of George Armstrong Construction Ltd. over the accuracy of the bids.
Committee recommendations on the bids were considered during the meeting of the Committee of the Whole on Monday night, which two representatives from the George Armstrong Company Ltd. attended.
“With all due respect, we take issue in the fact we believe you have some inaccurate information,” argued John Callan, a consultant working for the company.
Input from the company was turned down by committee chair, Coun. Sharon Tibbs, who pointed out that as part of the process bidders can not enter any information after bids have closed.
Later, in council chambers, Coun. Tibbs held her stance despite the fact that an information package had been left by George Armstrong Co. Ltd. at the desk of each council member.
“I think, as I re-iterated at the Committee of the Whole meeting, that after the bids are closed, no other [information] can be received,” she stressed.
In the package, the company argued that their bid was worth more based on royalty payments of dollars per cubic meter of rock removed from the quarry over several years.
“When we learned the town was basing a decision on a comparison using our bid being valued at $99,600 (approximately), we became concerned,” they wrote. “Some would say we started ‘playing politics.’ However, it was our simple objective to ensure council was basing its decision with respect to the disposal of this property on valid information and therefore we wanted an opportunity to present information, which, based on our years of experience in the industry, would be of benefit to Council.”
Both the George Armstrong Company and the town consulted outside firms to assess the value of the bid and obtained different projections of the return after the purchase.
The town had hired an outside consultant to review the tenders after some figures initially reached in the tenders were questionable.
“We put the property out for sale and we received four bids, three of which were to buy as a property. The fourth bid was not to buy it, it was a lease/royalty proposal,” CAO Bill Naturkach explained this morning.
“At the end of the analysis the highest bid continued to be Dennis Robinson Limited,” he added.
Four of the six councillors present at Monday night’s meeting voted in favour of passing a resolution to sell the property to Dennis Robinson Ltd. for $115,000 without looking at the distributed package while Coun. Neil Kabel and Mayor Glenn Witherspoon voted against it, requesting the resolution be tabled while the information distributed by George Armstrong Company Ltd. was considered.
“If they weren’t accurate the first time are they accurate the second time,” questioned Coun. Neil Kabel. “Shouldn’t we at least take a look at it.”
Coun. Deane Cunningham also suggested the resolution be tabled but when that was turned down voted in favour of the resolution but noted he was voting according to procedure, as if the additional information had not been received.
“I voted based on the information we had and based on the fact we hadn’t had the chance to review any other information,” said Coun. Cunningham.
Following the vote, the company’s vice-president Shane Armstrong left the council Chambers visibly upset by the decision.