29-year contract too long

To the editor:

Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the eye of people holding the microphones before I had to leave the Nov. 23 public meeting on plans for Skaha Lake Park, so I would like to take this opportunity of making a couple of points for council to consider at its Dec. 1 meeting:

I am greatly concerned at the prospect of any contract with Trio Marine Group (or any other supplier of services to the city) having a term of 29 years plus a 10-year extension option. Effectively, this would hogtie the next 10 city councils, many of whom will doubtless be facing priorities which are not currently envisaged.

I submit that this council has no mandate to thus encumber future councils. I wonder if it is legal under provincial law for any municipality to enter into a contract of this duration. If it is not illegal, it should be. The city should not under any circumstances enter into a contract of a duration greater than five years, possibly with the option of a five-year extension, subject to certain predetermined targets being met during the first five years.

I take the mayor’s point about needing to give the contractor some security for the investment which it will be making in the infrastructure.

This could be accomplished by a provision in the contract that states that an independent, qualified consultant should be appointed by the city to examine the infrastructure during the final year of the contract and prepare a valuation taking into account damage and/or wear and tear.

The contract should provide that, in the event another bidder is selected to take over the contract on its expiry, the city will purchase the contractor’s interest in the infrastructure at the price indicated in the valuation.

The city should indicate in its request for proposals that the successful bidder (if not the existing contractor) will be required to purchase that interest from the city and should provide proof it has the financial means to do so. The city council of the day could, if it so chooses, elect to retain ownership and merely lease it to the new contractor.

Finally, if Coun. Tarik Sayeed is incorrect in his contention that the contract with Trio is legally dead, then council should cancel it.

If it does not, then the next council will undoubtedly be mandated by the electorate to cancel the contract and it will be far more costly to do so than to do it now.

Brian Butler,

Penticton