Weeding out the bad apples

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Ottawa Sun

Written by the Ottawa Sun Editorial Board

Ottawa city council was right to approve a motion this week geared at blacklisting contractors that provide shoddy services to the city.

While the city already attempts to use their discretion at prohibiting bad contractors from bidding on new contracts this measure would formalize the process.

The motion was put forward by Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais. Last year renovations began on a series of recreation centres. The renovations were supposed to be staggered, thus minimizing the number of centres that would need to be closed at the same time. But the contractor messed up and they were all closed at once. Blais identified this as a major problem and thought up ways to make sure it would never happen again. His motion was born out of this experience.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” says Blais. “But when you consistently provide poor services that obviously becomes a problem.”

Absolutely right. The city is a customer and the customer has the right to demand good services and to use its discretion when it comes to hiring good contractors.

The spirit of the Request for Proposals process ensures that because the money being spent is public money, any company – any member of the public – has a right to bid on services. That way it stops city managers from always awarding contracts to their buddies. But the city shouldn’t make the by-laws so consistently open to everyone that it stops the city from protecting itself from poor work.

Case in point: the Woodroffe watermain. Residents of Ottawa south are going to suffer all summer because a contractor sold us on an expected 75 year lifeline that turned out to only last half of that. If that company is still in business we should avoid them like the plague.

At a time when it seems like no one at City Hall has any respect for how taxpayer dollars are spent, this motion is a breath of fresh air. It also sends a message to contractors that we are serious about getting quality service for our dollar. Not to mention the message it sends to good contractors that we appreciate their quality services and want to throw out the bad apples that taint their professions.