By Cole Parkinson
Stemming from prior Municipal District of Taber policy committee discussions around approved contractors, council was updated on administration’s progress on the policy.
After flooding in 2011, the M.D. of Taber approved a drainage approval policy which included wording that any work undertaken within municipal road right of way could only be undertaken with permission from M.D. council.
Coming from the past policy meeting held in June, administration provided a list of M.D. approved contractors that would be eligible to complete work within the guidelines.
“The way this policy is set up is to tier the contractors based on their demonstrated experience. There are many different types of work undertaken. Excavation, road building, approaches, pipelines, which is fairly technical and requires experience,” said CAO Derrick Krizsan at the M.D.’s policy meeting on August 7.
In the policy, there are five different tiers that classify each contractor to do the specific task.
Tier one approves excavation, road building, approaches and pipeline work, tier two allows excavation and approaches, and tier five contractors are approved for snow maintenance (quad tractors and excavators).
“The thinking in that (tier system) is that not all contractors are equal in experience. It’s key in ensuring that work is undertaken and not a liability to us in terms of having to go back and re-work those projects,” added Krizsan.
Thirteen contractors are approved so far including George Miller Excavating (tier one), Porter Tanner Associates (tier one), G. Wiebe Excavating (tier one), Ground Tech Enterprises (tier one), F. Miller Excavating (tier one), Southern Excavating (tier two), RCB Excavating (tier three), CORE Excavating (tier three), Hansen’s Excavating (tier one), Taber Excavating (tier three), The Crossing Company (Tier four), Gouw Quality Onions (tier five) and Shimbashi Farms (tier five).
Krizsan also highlighted the fact that any of the approved contractors could move up tiers as long as they provided samples of doing the work in each tier to satisfactory levels.
Even with the approved contractor list, some on council were still more in favour of choosing those who could get the job done at a satisfactory level.
“I still have a problem if we start picking and choosing contractors. I think as long as they can get the job done,” said Reeve Brian Brewin. “To me, this covers what the expectation is. Somebody wants to do some work? Okay, here is what our expectations are.”
Other concerns brought up were around the work being done near M.D. infrastructure.
While the list ensures M.D. approved contractors, there were still concerns that even those companies could make mistakes just as much as the next company not on the list.
“My concern would be if they are going to be doing work that was around our infrastructure, I’d want a bond. I understand why we have a list and I’m not criticizing that, I just think the work that needs to be done, it needs to be guaranteed,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga. “There is no guarantee, just because they are on the approved list they can still mess up a culvert just as well as anybody who isn’t on the list.”
One suggestion made was to pick the best contractor available for the work, regardless of whether or not they are listed on the approved M.D. list.
“Maybe not all tiers need an approved contractor. If they can do the work satisfactorily, if it’s not done satisfactorily then we hire someone to do the work and send them the bill for the repair job. We’d let them know that when they start the work,” said Coun. John Turcato, who also stated he has seen examples of farmers working around the required approved contractors. “There’s another way around this too, I know it’s been done in the past. Where if you know one of the contractors and you are tight with them, you just do the work yourself and have the contractor sign off on it. That’s been done a number of times and really the works being done, just in a different way.”
In order to be on the list, the M.D. requires a formal application which they will then review current and past projects completed by M.D. staff for quality assurance.
Council will then review applications and staff recommendations for level of tier approval or non-approval.
The contractors would also be required to produce documentation, liability insurance in the amount of $5,000,000, Workers Compensation Board (WCB) coverage and a required $100 fee when submitting the application to be on the list.
“That $100 application to be on the list, we’re just calling it a one-time business license,” said Miyanaga.
While administration noted that wasn’t an unfair assessment, Krizsan pointed out they needed to make sure the contractor was viable for any work.
“It looks and feels like you’re asking people to become licensed and permitted but it’s for a specific purpose which is to be able to undertake the work on behalf of a ratepayer on a municipal right of way. The permitting part, in respects, protects both of us if there is a process in place to approve this. If it’s incorrect, we go back to the contractor. In some ways, it protects the landowners as well from any problems that could occur in the future. The process laid out has potential to be very simple,” he explained. “For municipally approved projects, we qualify contractors through the tendering process. As part of our tender process, they have to demonstrate competency and one of the ways they do that is examples of previous work and references. When we do a tender, we will ask for that work.”
Brewin raised the concern that those looking to do their own work may not know that they need to be M.D. approved.
He stated he had heard resident concerns from certain individuals who feel they could do the work adequately but they didn’t realize liability plays a factor into why the M.D. hires contractors for work undertaken within municipal road right of way.
“If we were to advertise this saying if you want to be on the list, here’s the new application and you need to make sure you have liability insurance and WBC,” added Brewin.
A motion was made to recommend to council and was passed with a vote of 6-1.
Brewin was the lone opposing vote.