City approves upgrades to splash pad at Porcupine Lake

Contract is just less than $395,000

Article content

City council has approved a contract with Elmvale-based Diamond Head Sprinklers for upgrades to the White Water Park splash pad in South Porcupine.

The work, given the green light during Tuesday night’s meeting, will cost the City of Timmins $394,875, plus HST.

It remains to be seen, however, exactly when work on the project will get under way.

“The schedule was part of the evaluation criteria,” said Gerry Paquette, the city’s supervisor of projects.

“Unfortunately, the RFP (request for proposals) closed back in September 2020 and the schedules submitted by all of the bidders were based on the RFP being awarded shortly thereafter.

“Now, we are into the first week of April and we haven’t been able to award it yet.

“All of the timelines from all of the contractors were somewhat similar, around the eight-week range.

“So, hopefully once it is awarded, we can discuss with them and firm up an exact time and schedule.”

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Mayor George Pirie was quick to point out council was not the stumbling block when it comes to the contract not being awarded in a timely fashion after the RFPs were received.

“I don’t know what the reason for the delay was, but the first time it came up was the last council meeting (March 23),” he said. “It had nothing to do with council, that’s for sure.”

Paquette indicated that was not what he had been suggesting, at all.

The city’s supervisor of projects noted the White Water Park splash pad was originally installed around 2000.

“City staff, along with a consultant, reviewed the (11) proposals and scored them according to our evaluation criteria and based on that, the high score was given to Diamond Head Sprinklers,” he said.

Ward 4 Coun. John Curley wondered about the decision to use a consultant to assist with the evaluation process.

Paquette said, “Since I have been here, this (will be) the first time we have built a water park. We did some remediation at the Hollinger Park a couple of years ago but we didn’t change the fixtures. We just refurbished them, added a rubber surface and enlarged the play area.

“The splash pad at Hollinger Park was, I think, done around 2000, as well.”

Curley continued, “The reason I brought this up is I don’t recall us ever hiring somebody as a consultant to go through this.”

The Ward 4 councillor had another concern, as well.

Curley said, “We had a number of companies that bid and some of them submitted various bids. Is there a reason why some of them would submit two or three bids, while others submitted single bids?”

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Paquette responded, “The RFP document itself allowed proponents to submit more than one bid, as long as they followed the template. They weren’t allowed to submit alternative products, just alternative bids.

“So, some of them, for example, came up with different designs. They were submitting different prices for different designs, different options.

“The bids we did receive, some of them were complete. Some of them offered options we did not ask for, so they couldn’t be considered.”

Curley continued, “So, in our request for proposals, we didn’t stipulate anything we wanted? It was just a water park or were we specific on what kind of arrangements, the size, type of sprinklers we were putting in place? Was that part of the request for proposals?”

Paquette replied, “No, there were specifications, for the type of surface, the type of material the spray features were to be made of, the coding of them. They had to be compliant with all codes.

“The reason we went RFP rather than just getting one design is obviously we are not designers and we felt it would provide more opportunity for us to see a number of designs. That would give us more options and more choice.”

Curley noted he went on the website for Diamond Head Sprinklers but was unable to find examples of water parks the company has worked on in the past.

“I am not saying they never did one, but I am just saying I could not find any place on their website where they actually did this type of work,” he said.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“They do a lot of commercial sprinkler systems and they are probably excellent at doing that, but I just couldn’t find that.

“Obviously, there was in the RFP to be qualified in years of experience in doing such a thing, I am assuming?”

Paquette said, “Yes, that is correct. Experience and references were part of the evaluation criteria.

“This company has been in business since 1989. The current owner purchased the company in 2005. Between 2005 and 2013, they were doing maintenance, repairs and redesign to existing splash pads.

“In 2013, that’s when they got into full installations. Since 2013, they have completed 14 projects across the province.

“They provided, with their proposal, as we had requested, three projects they have completed to use as references and they also provided three additional projects of a similar nature.

“All of the projects they provided were done through various municipalities. They provided, as references, a splash pad that was completed in 2018 in Thunder Bay for $460,000.

“In 2020, they completed a splash pad in Ear Falls for $310,000, and in 2018, they completed a splash pad in Elmvale for $350,000.

“They also completed projects in Red Lake, Gravenhurst and various other municipalities across the province. Currently, they are working on one in Windsor.”

Ward 3 Coun. Joe Campbell noted Diamond Head Sprinklers was not the lowest compliant bidder for the project.

“Why would we not have gone to another one if they were not the lowest (compliant) bidder?” he asked.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Paquette replied, “Because the evaluation criteria was based on much more than just cost. They were the highest-scoring compliant bidder.

“Others had a lower price and they were compliant but based on the other criteria their points were lower than Diamond Head Sprinklers’ points.”

Campbell continued, “It still confuses me that you would put that in there that they weren’t the lowest compliant bidder.”

Paquette said, “It may be the report was improperly worded. They were compliant and they were the highest scoring of all compliant bidders.

“The original report may have said they were the lowest priced and that was presented in error. Maybe that is where some of the confusion began.”

The 120-point scoring criteria included 25 points for cost, 20 points for play value, 20 points for appearance, 20 points for work schedule, 10 points for safety, 10 points for warranty, 10 points for references and five points for durability.

Campbell indicated he was not happy, as well, that the prices of the other bids received were not included in the report that accompanied Paquette’s verbal presentation to council.

“Going back to last term, when these RFPs came to us for approval, they included all of the bidders and the amounts that were bid,” he said. “That is public knowledge. We have drifted back now where we get these things and we only show one bidder.

“We are a governance body and lately we have drifted to the point where this information is not provided to council to look at as to why certain people are chosen to do the job.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“I am just asking administration why we have drifted away from providing all the numbers. Some of the information comes to us and some of the information doesn’t.

“For example, this one says the price range was from $359,000 to $432,500, yet it doesn’t show us the price for the companies that were involved here.

“So, I think it is very difficult for council to act as a governance body not having that information.

“I checked today with some people and that’s public knowledge. That is not information the public shouldn’t see — all the bidders, what they bid on the job and why the city chose the contractor we went with.”

City clerk Steph Palmateer clarified, “What you are looking at is the difference between a tender and an RFP.

“Whenever we have tenders, the criteria is explicitly established by the city and you would have to meet all of those requirements and the sole determining factor is how the requirements are met, price.

“So, that is administrative reports from staff on tenders list all the bids.

“RFPs are different because there is scoring criteria and price isn’t necessarily the main determining factor. So, when you get an RFP, this is why the information is provided based on legal advice received on how to provide information on RFPs.

“Just to answer your question, yes, there was an error in the report. It should have said the bidder was not the lowest bidder. Putting the word compliant in there seemed to be very confusing.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“So, that’s the difference. On tenders, the criteria are established on the tender, so the deciding criteria is price and on RFPs there are a multitude of factors that are considered in the review. Price is only one of them.”

Campbell continued, “I know proprietary is one of them, but I am not so sure asking people to bid on a water park. I know we asked for different designs, but I am not so sure how proprietary that information is to the point of falling under the category of not knowing what all the bids are for the project.”

Conversely, Ward 5 Coun. Kristin Murray felt the report was “quite detailed” in terms of how it evaluated the criteria.

“We received this information on Friday and had plenty of time to ask questions with relation to further details,” she said. “The vender submission summary explains a lot, as well.”

News Near Sault Ste. Marie

This Week in Flyers