By Craig Westcott/October 21, 2021
The Town of Carbonear is hiring an engineering firm to conduct a visual assessment of the Bankers Pub before it opens the building for viewing to prospective buyers.
The Town acquired the building as the result of a tax sale auction and was hoping by now to have issued a request for proposals (RFP) for anyone wanting to buy take it off its hands. But that was delayed given worries about the condition of the building, which is located at 190 Water Street.
“There will be people who will want to view that building before the RFP goes out,” the Town’s chief administrative officer, Cynthia Davis, told councilors at their public meeting last week. “There are some concerns. The floor is dropped in a part of the building. In consultation with the Town’s lawyer, due to the stability issues with that floor and the safety concerns for people entering that building, they did recommend that an assessment be done by a structural engineer first to identify whether people should enter the building or not. So, our director of operations and public works did call for quotes to have that visual assessment done and for a report to be sent back to council indicating whether it would be safe to enter that building.”
However, only one company bid on the Town’s call to conduct the visual assessment. That bid, from DBA Consulting Engineers Ltd., was for $2,450, HST included.
Public works director Ian Farrell said he contacted four companies for bids, but only one responded by the deadline.
Deputy Mayor Sam Slade expressed concern that only one bid was being considered. “When council is tendering out or calling for proposals, isn’t there always supposed to be three (bids considered)?” Slade asked.
“In the event of such requests going out and we only get one back, do we have the right then to proceed with that one?” added councillor Ray Noel.
Davis pointed out that in this particular case, the Town did not call a tender, but did request proposals from structural engineers in the area. “We can go back and see if he (Farrell) can reach others,” Davis said.
“Did we get a reason from the other people why they didn’t want to proceed?” asked Mayor Frank Butt.
“There was just no response,” said Farrell. “One consultant that I e-mailed responded and acknowledged receipt of it, and forwarded it to one of their estimators with the intention of providing us with a price, but we didn’t hear back. I was careful to check my junk mail just to make sure that what I got was what I got.”
Councillor Danielle Doyle said the price of the one bid the town did get was certainly reasonable. “And that building has been sitting there a very, very, very long time and I know that that there are some very interested parties interested in looking at that building,” she said. “So, the longer we put that off, the longer that building is deteriorating.”
Doyle said she doesn’t know any reason why council would want to delay it further.
“Every attempt was made to get three quotes,” she said. “I think for some of the groups looking at this, time is of the essence and the quicker we get the ball rolling on it, the quicker that this building might, potentially, be saved.”
Slade said he wasn’t questioning that aspect of it, but rather if it’s a norm to proceed with contracts in cases where only one bid is received. He noted that during his previous time on council, the practice was always to get three bids.
Councillor Chris O’Grady then raised the prospect of an additional wrinkle. “My concern is, who is this (engineering) company?” he said. “Is there anyone here in conflict from this company? I never heard tell of this group here.”
Davis said Farrell could provide details on the company.
Mayor Butt and councillor Slade both asked for clarification on the time period involved in the call for proposals.
Davis said the request went out September 29 and closed on October 7.
Slade asked whether it’s possible for the Town to issue the call for proposals again, or is the situation with the building so bad it’s more important to get the assessment done now?
O’Grady said issuing the RFP again runs the risk of any new quotes coming in higher. “It is a very small job,” he pointed out.
After a last call for any further discussion, which did not draw any additional comments, Butt called for a vote on the motion to issue the contract to DBA. It passed unanimously.