COBDEN -- Whitewater Region Township council members had to decide between a job well done or possibly saving the ratepayers $200,000. In the end, Andrew Shouldice, president of Beaumen Waste Manaegment Systems in Renfrew, was quite pleased a job well done was the choice made. During last night's council meeting, his company was awarded the curbside recycling and garbage contracts for the township for the years 2015 to 2019 during last night's council meeting.
Sitting through the council meeting were Mr. Shouldice and his employees.
"Our employees have worked very hard on this contract," he said after the meeting. "They take a personal pride. For some reason, Whitewater Region has had special care from Beaumen and there's a sense of pride with the staff." When the recommendation was to go with another bidder at a lower amount, Mr. Shouldice wasn't surprised, but he's glad it's not all about money. Prior to awarding the two contracts, Environmental Services Manager Steve Hodson said while no decision had been made, the recommendation from a recent committee meeting was to take the lowest tender, which would have been Canadian Waste Management (CWM), a company from the Mississauga area.
In reviewing the information during Wednesday night's council meeting, Mr. Hodson said, "We had an extremely low bid from Canadian Waste Management Incorporated, and while I expressed my concerns at committee, I think we all know that sometimes lowest isn't always in our best interests."
The CWM bid for curbside recycling came in at $768,955 while the other bid, from Beaumen's, came in at $956,506.40 Councillor Cathy Regier agreed with Mr. Hodson. "Beaumen Waste Management have done an impeccable job for this township over the years," she said. "I cannot say enough about them and I think if you speak to anyone throughout the township, they have done a fantastic job."
She was also concerned that if CWM was awarded the curbside garbage pickup contract, which was also being recommended, that all of council's "eggs are going in one basket," with a company that has never worked for the township before. The information received about CWM isn't up to the standards she would like to see.
Following up on a question, Mr. Hodson noted in 2014, recycling pickup cost the township $177,000, while this year, if Beaumen's were to be awarded the contract again, it would increase to $183,801.28, which is roughly a three per cent increase.
Councillor Daryl McLaughlin said he has no way of justifying spending an extra $200,000 for recycling pickup. While he agreed Beaumen was "good enough to take over" the recycling contract when the bid winner last time decided he couldn't make it work for him, the thought of spending an extra $40,000 each year over the next five years was daunting for Coun. McLaughlin.
Mr. Hodson said, "I'm actually very uncomfortable with how low a bid Canadian Waste Management put in. I'm shocked at the price. It makes me very nervous."
Reeve Terry Millar questioned if CWM is aware of what they are geting into.
Mr. Hodson said they were made aware of the average tons recycled in the township. Reeve Millar said, "So, basically, if they came here, that's the job, you do it."
However, from information he has gathered, "There is a fairly substantial risk to the township." He is concerned the company may not be up to the task, and possibly the township could be in the same situation as before and have to "crawl back to these guys (Beaumen) and say what now. I wouldn't want to be the one to do that."
Councillor Charlene Jackson said she has concerns with this company and she deals with them in her position as treasurer in Laurentian Valley. She has concerns with the fleet in regards to breakdowns and some of the services they provide.
"My biggest concern is with their feet and also the fact that they may not have done all their homework in regards to the volumn and area that is required for pickup," she said. She believes CWM would lose money, back out of the contract, thereby forcing council to find someone quickly, which would mean higher costs that weren't budgeted.
While it's $40,000 a year difference between Beaumen's and CWM, Coun. Jackson believes the ratepayers would be okay with it. "It's only a three per cent incresae over last year," she said. "I would certainly like to see the $40,000 in Whitewater's pocket rather than in someone else's pocket, but at this time I think it's crucial we make sure that we get the proper service for what we want to provide to the ratepayers."
Mayor Hal Johnson said he has received "quite a few phone calls" from seasonal business owners, who currently receive top-notch service from Beaumen's.
He is "impressed with the current contractor." Coun. McLaughlin questioned where the letters of concern were. He said he's hearing only of phone calls.
"We were through this the last time with the garbage pickup," he recalled. "We went with the extremely low bid and it was a tremendous savings to our township."
Councillor Chris Olmstead said the tendering process accomplished what had been hoped. Taking into consideration what he has heard from residents and business owners, he would want Beaumen Waste Management to be awarded both contracts.
Talking about the garbage contract, Mr. Hodson noted there were three bids within a decent range of each other. CWM was the lowest at $565,698.80 followed by NJL Services of $562,570.80 and then Beaumen's at $597,354.15. NJL Services, which is from Beachburg, does not have a Minisry of Environment (MOE) licence to collect garbage and does not have any trucks to pick it up, Mr. Hodson said.
However, he contacted the MOE and it's much easier to obtain a licence and as for the fleet of trucks, he heard NJL is going to purchase the trucks used by Direct Express, which is the current contractor, if awarded the contract. Coun. McLaughlin said the lowest bid is from a company within the township, and he suggested the tender be awarded to that company.
However, Coun. Jackson was concerned with going with someone who has never collected waste, has no licence nor equipment, at present time.
"We are putting ourselves in a bit of a joepardy situation," she said. "Beaumen is a reputable company, they're in the business currently, we're satisfied with their service for recycling right now.
"Beaumean knows the route, they're a very reputable company and I stand by my recommendation,," she added. Over the last few contracts, there has been a new person each time and always growing pains, she added. Coun. Olmstead agreed with Coun. Jackson. He pointed out that Direct Express did not submit a tender and there were reasons why they didn't. CWM is even less than the current bid of Direct Express. "This is a special area that needs to be looked after," he stated. Reeve Millar noted staff from Beaumen's sat in council chambers throughout the evening waiting for this conversation to take place.
"These are the people who have been making it happen," he said. "I'm going to agree with Charlene and Chris."
However, Coun. McLaughlin said the difference between the lowest and Beaumen's bid is $235,000. "Somewhere along the line you are going to have to justify why," he said. He noted when Direct Express was awarded the contract, it did not have a licence and it worked out fine.
When it was time to vote on the motion awarding both contracts to Beaumen's, Coun. McLaughlin and Mayor Johnson voted against it in a recorded vote.
After the meeting, Mr. Shouldice said he understands why there were two votes against his company getting awarded the contract.
"The councillors have a duty to the constitutents to control taxes," he said. "But the reality is, sometimes you get what you pay for. There are many issues and different proponents. There are some issues that come up and Beaumen has a safety rating that is very good."
He is surprised council voted to go with his bids even though they weren't the lowest, but he believes his staff deserve this contract. "The reality is, we have spent more resources in Whitewater than we do in other municipalities," Mr. Shouldice said. "It's a very large region, it has a lot of private roads." He noted his staff put in a special run for businesses in the township by picking up recycling weekly, although the contract says bi-weekly. "We felt, to do the job properly, they needed weekly service," Mr. Shouldice said. "You guys have some really strong businesses in this region that we're really proud to service and there are times, especially in the spring, where they need weekly pickup."
Beaumen's have been picking up recycling in the township for about 10 years, with the excetion of a few months when another contractor had been awarded the tender, but couldn't fulfill his duties.
Mayor Johnson said he voted against the motion because while he was in favour of awarding the recycling pickup to Beaumean's, he believe NJL Services of Beachburg should have been awarded the garbage contract.