Not being awarded a city contract for the supply and delivery of bedding plants means one less person a local business owner will be hiring this summer.
And it’s all because of a price difference of just over $250.
In February, Fay Branigan, who owns The Greenhouse At Cliffside, received a letter from the city informing her she would not be awarded the contract.
Instead, the city had chosen to go with the only other company to put in a proposal: Devan Greenhouses Ltd. of Abbottsford, B.C.
Devan had the lower price, coming in at $14,574.38 compared to the $14,827 price tag Branigan had submitted.
“I was a little floored by that,” Branigan said of the city choosing an Outside company over a local company – when there was such a trifling difference in price.
Branigan told the Star Monday she had worked to find efficiencies and get the price on the proposal as low as she could while still making a profit.
Following up with officials, she was told the city doesn’t take into account local preference when looking at such bids.
As it was outlined in a follow-up email from the city to Branigan:
“The results of the procurement was that your price quote was higher than another company who happens to be external to the Yukon. Under the terms of the Policy and competitive bidding law, the City is obligated to accept the lower price bid regardless of the location of the supplier.”
As Branigan pointed out though, there are also sections of the city’s purchasing policy that the city will consider, among other factors, the reduction of greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting emissions when it looks at purchases.
Wouldn’t purchasing locally, Branigan questioned, mean fewer emissions?
She also highlighted past events where city officials – including Mayor Dan Curtis and councillors – have promoted shopping local.
“It’s like they don’t support local business,” Branigan said.
She has also taken the issue to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and city council members.
Coun. Laura Cabott was the only member of council to reply to Branigan.
Cabott noted in an email: “... I was surprised and disappointed as you were to find out that the City’s current policy does not have a provision for local procurement. The policy is about eight years old. This issue has now come up twice since being elected.
“I have asked for a formal update from sr. management as well the City will be reviewing and revising our Purchase and Sale policy this year (I have asked that we do this as soon as possible).”
In an interview Monday, Cabott noted that while administration had awarded the contract in accordance with the city’s purchasing policy, it’s clear the policy has to be looked at.
“Buying local is just good all around,” she said.
She has asked for administration to bring forward the policy shortly so council can look at changes to help ensure there’s a provision to factor in local procurement.
In this case, Cabott said, the price difference was negligible.
The councillor said she would like to see a policy where local preference is factored in if there is little difference in the price.
As for what the price difference would be, Cabott said, “It’s something you would weigh,” and that could be looked at as part of the review on the policy that’s set to happen this year.