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Price fluctuations spark bid-irrevocability request to MI

The MHCA Board of Directors is requesting Manitoba Infrastructure to amend its bid-irrevocability provisions in its tenders, to reflect the volatility in materials prices in the market.

At a meeting June 30 of the MHCA Board, it was discussed that prices for some materials are held for as little as seven days. Construction, generally, has been dealing with steeply rising prices for materials and supplies, which started last year in reaction to the pandemic economic shutdown.

The standard irrevocability period of 30 days for bids on public tenders is far too long, given this volatility in the supply market, it was noted.

The MHCA Board approved MHCA President Chris Lorenc meeting with the deputy ministers of Manitoba Infrastructure and of Central Services to request an amendment in tenders to adopt a 15-day bid irrevocability period, with a maximum period of 30 days.

“Some in our industry are seeing, for example, pipe supplier quotes being held for as little as 7 days,” said MHCA President Chris Lorenc. “These are really high expense items for any bid and that means bidders are having to work extraordinary risk factors into their prices. That is not good for the owner of projects – in our case, typically governments – nor for the industry where competition for contracts is already very tight.”

The MHCA will approach the Winnipeg Construction Association to jointly meet with the senior department officials, outlining the circumstances and the recommended bid-irrevocability period.

The Board of Directors was also informed that MI is looking to change the format and information released with its quarterly tender-advertising schedule.

“We would like to see tender advertising, bid response and awards presented on Merx in a way that allows the industry to track through the year the value of the program, against what is released in MI’s annual program budget documents,” Lorenc told the Board.

Lorenc said the industry has been asked to respond by mid-July to MI, and so members are being asked to get their comments and suggestions to MHCA by July 12. Members can send their comments by July 12 to Lorenc at clorenc@mhca.mb.ca. Members can read further details here.

The MHCA Board was also updated on MHCA’s engagement in a City of Winnipeg working group, set up to discuss the elements of a social procurement policy. The policy is intended to set out how the City can use its buying power to expand economic benefits to under-represented communities.

The working group recently heard a presentation from Buy Social Canada, which offered a logical five-step process for integrating social procurement into the purchase of goods and services.

Social procurement seeks to generate a social return from the tendering or purchasing of goods and services that an organization, such as a government or agency, engages in.

City administration was directed by City Council in December to hold consultations to identify social procurement practices for appropriate City tenders, “with a goal of establishing a bid value for community benefits, consistent with the practice of other comparable Canadian municipalities, including a cost analysis of tendering under a social procurement policy where appropriate.”

Other items discussed at the committee included:

  • An industry working group has sent to the RM of Springfield its suggestions and recommendations on a proposed aggregates bylaw. The working group’s suggestions aim to ensure that existing operations and new pits are not impeded; they focused on providing protection of water quality and mitigation of noise, dust, light and esthetic (visible) elements that accompany aggregate operations.
  • The province’s Expert Advisory Council has submitted to Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard a report with recommendations for a Green Transportation Strategy. Among the recommendations, the council is advising that biofuel mandates can rise, to 15% ethanol and 10% biodiesel – significant increases from the current mandates. No date was given as to when those thresholds should be reached. See further details here.
  • The MHCA has produced a pamphlet that illustrates the benefits, the purposes and regulatory controls for pit and quarry operations. It was circulated to members, operators and a variety of stakeholder organizations and municipal offices in early June.
  • Discussion with provincial offices continues about the need to make COR certification mandatory for public tenders of all value. Currently, contractors must be COR certified to be awarded provincial tenders valued at $100,000 or more.
  • The Manitoba Common Ground Alliance, of which MHCA is a member, has been working with utilities to speed up the response for locate requests. A notice was sent to members, informing them of the work and that extended delays should be reported.
  • The Provincial Quarry Rehab Advisory Committee has met to discuss, among other things, operational and rehabilitative standards. It will also discuss adjustment to the provincial levy that operators pay, per tonne of extracted aggregates, into a provincial account that funds rehabilitation.
  • WCR&HCA’s website has been updated and refreshed; an annual conference is in the works, but will not be held before 2023.