Road repair and repainting was a major part of Thompson city council’s May 11 meeting, when most of the councillors were physically present in chambers for the first time since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began.
Councillors approved resolutions to purchase dust control supply and application services for unpaved roads in the city, to award a tender for traffic line painting, to purchase pothole patching material and to secure a supply of concrete for the public works department.
The first three of these were all approved unanimously without much debate, though it was noted that line painting costs have gone up considerably over what they were when they were done through Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT), coming to a total of nearly $30,000 for this year.
On the bright side, the lines should be painted between July 15 and July 30 this year, according to Coun. Andre Proulx.
“A few years ago we didn’t get it done till September and it was covered by snow by the end of October,” said Mayor Colleen Smook.
Coun. Duncan Wong was the only councillor who voted against the resolution to award a tender to provide concrete for the public works department to Multicrete Systems Inc., asking why it couldn’t just be purchased as needed, potentially at a lower price per cubic metre than the price Multicrete quoted.
City manager Anthony McInnis said that if the city bought concrete as needed that three quotes would need to be obtained before some of the purchases, depending on the amount needed, before a decision could be made.
“It’s quite an onerous process because of the way our procurement policy is set up,” he said.
Coun. Earl Colbourne noted that, although Multicrete has agreed to supply a specific amount for a price of about $50,000, the city only pays for the amount it actually uses.
“We’re just paying for what we use up to $50,000,” he said.
Deputy mayor Les Ellsworth said Wong could have received answers to many of the questions he had about the concrete purchase at the committee stage before the resolution came to council.
“I have no issue with anyone on council or committee asking questions but when there’s a place that you can answer them long before you get here, we’re better prepared then for the debate, not about what the quality is, for sure, but whether we should do it or not and spend taxpayers’ money,” said Ellsworth. “That’s the conversation I want to be having.”
“The reason I’m asking the question is why as a small customer walking into the shop I can order cheaper?” said Wong. “I expect the amount would be cheaper. That’s what my argument is. Whether I discuss it at the committee level is irrelevant.”