Monday, December 18, 2017

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Editor,

You have to love bureaucracies, the bigger they grow, yet still manage to screw up, the solution is always more resources required.

Meaford staff is recommending that two positions be created for project management. To quote the recent TMI article, “As our Treasurer/Director of Infrastructure Management conceded on Monday, this municipality has had its issues with projects being delayed, or not getting off the ground at all, and it's time we had some people to manage the projects.”

To quote TMI once again, “I'm all for keeping our municipal staff complement lean, but currently our treasurer also doubles as the Director of Infrastructure Management – two huge (and hugely important) portfolios, and our CAO has been pulling double duty covering off the responsibilities of the Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture since the position became vacant months ago. So it isn't as though staff have requested permission to hire willy-nilly.”

Well, could it be that the municipality is staffed with employees without the professional credentials needed? As far as I know our treasurer is neither a CPA or a professional engineer but Council is obviously OK with this.

Using the Bakeshop Bridge (structure 30) project as an example, one can soon see where staff inexperience and our choices in consultants have led to missed schedules and design mess-ups. The 2015 inspection report of structure 30 by Ainley is well done (don’t know what it cost) and is on Meaford website. This 43-page report estimated the cost to repair this 1981 bridge would be $400,000. Meaford Purchasing used this report to issue a request for proposal to hire an engineering consultant to assist in preparing a specification and drawings in order to tender this rehabilitation of structure 30. This RFP issued July15/16 with bids due August 11/16. GM BluePlan was the successful bidder and was awarded the project August 25/16.

GM BluePlan’s bid package issued by Meaford Purchasing in April 2017 (exact date not given) with bids due May 11/17. Successful bidder to begin work June 12/17 with completion September 15/17. Not sure of the exact successful bid but it is in the region of $450,000.

What take-aways can we get from this paper trail?

Ainley provided the comprehensive 2015 bridge report which was part of the 2016 tender for engineering consultants. Ainley was one of the bidders for this engineering services RFP but GM’s bid won. If you look at RFP-FIM-2016-03 on the Meaford website, Section 1, page 6, Proposal Selection Criteria, it is hard to imagine anyone besting Ainley’s bid in any area other than price and schedule since the bid package was based on their inspection report. Ainley should have ranked #1 in all other criteria. Who are the members of the Tender Opening Committee? Are they technically literate?

Rather interesting that Purchasing gives approximately 25 days for engineering consultants to bid on a $100,000? job (why can we not find this on Meaford website?), yet appears to give the same or less time for a $450,000 project.

The bids for the rehabilitation project were due May 11/17 but there is no info when they were opened by the Tender Opening Committee. In the selection of the engineering consultant RFP, the bids were received August 11 but selection did not happen till August 25/16, 14 days difference. For the bridge rehab project we are told bids due May 11 and project to commence June12/17. Meaford's website does not tell us when bids were opened. If it took 14 days as it did for the consultant then this contractor was only given 18 days to prepare for a 4-month scheduled $450,000 project!

Meaford’s RFP for engineering services in Section II page 2 Task 1 requires the consultant to meet with staff to identify available background info, collect and review reports, drawings, review bridge building codes. Interesting that the missing thrust blocks never came up. Task 2 and Task 3 refers to preliminary designs being reviewed by the Municipality’s Project Team. Who do we have on staff with the engineering credentials to effectively critique bridge structural designs? Did the need for thrust blocks ever arise?

Words mean things: If my take on it is correct, these thrust blocks are a newer requirement and the bridge has served without them since 1981. If this project was called a repair rather than a rehabilitation would their need be dropped?

Did any preliminary design proposal call for replacement rather than repair of girders. The inspection photos show lots of corrosion; by the time you jack up a girder for repair plus repair of where it sits, you still have a 35 year-old girder, or was delivery of new ones an issue because of crazy schedule?

Why was coated rebar not considered? For 15% extra no worries about corrosion.

What this project needed was a better awareness of timing and weather and engineering oversight. This idea that hiring two project managers on staff for $180,000 total would have solved our problems is farcical. Who are you going to get with experience and credentials for this salary? You are going to get two technicians, not engineers, and likely recent grads.

So we have a staff of 60-plus permanent which grows to over 100 once part-times are included (no org chart could be found), and we still need more!

Little known fact: a municipality is really only required to have ONE employee, a CLERK, every other function can be contracted.

Ray McHugh P.Eng., Meaford


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