Comox Strathcona Waste Management gets no bids for compost facility

Staff changing procurement process to get more firms to submit proposals

Comox Strathcona Waste Management has had to change the procurement process for its planned organics compost facility. Black Press File Photo

Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) is having to re-tender its organics compost facility project after receiving no final proposals.

The site, which will be located at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre, will provide organics composting for the region. CSWM manages waste management programs for the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts.

“This project is the highest priority for Comox Strathcona Waste Management,” general manager of engineering services Marc Rutten told the CSWM board during their Sept. 10 meeting.

According to staff, uncertainty in the construction sector has meant question marks for the procurement process. CSWM had received five bids during the request for qualifications stage and whittled this down to three bidders invited to submit formal proposals. However, none submitted by the July 23 closing date. One had staffing issues, while the other two had “affordability concerns.”

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona Waste Management goes to procurement for organics site

RELATED STORY: Three proponents submit for Comox-Strathcona organics facility

The COVID-19 pandemic has created more uncertainty in the construction business, and CSWM now expects the project cost to be higher, going from the previous $14.7 million up to $15.5 million. Tipping fees for organics would likely run $125 to $154 a ton, while the cost for the average household works out to about $8.15 per month. Staff said they hope to keep the figure at or below the cost for regular solid waste.

In the end, with no bids, CSWM has changed the procurement process from design-build to design-bid-build. One ramification is the project will go to tender separately for design and construction work, meaning local construction firms should be able to bid for work more easily.

One issue with bidders has been the technology CSWM wants to use, as staff say it is more cost-effective. A consultant’s report included in the board’s agenda package shows the membrane system CSWM prefers comes in at almost $1 million less for capital costs than another system, agitated bed technology. Estimates for operating and maintenance costs are also less. CSWM still has to answer what the potential operating costs could be, and it will likely look for a private company to take on operations.

At the recent meeting, the board raised a number of questions around issues such as social procurement factors, tipping fees, odour control and the participation rates for a current pilot program for food and yard waste in Cumberland and Comox.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland signs on for region’s compost program

Some members of the CSWM board were worried about potential skyrocketing costs for the organics facility. Brenda Leigh, who represents the unincorporated area south of Campbell River on the SRD board, has long opposed the project over extra transportation for materials that are mostly water, and she does not think the project will ever happen. She said the fact the operations part of the project had not been included in tendering at this point is a concern.

“The operating costs are a big question mark,” Leigh said.

Ron Kerr, one of the Campbell River directors with CSWM, reiterated her concerns about potential operating costs. Even having to go back to the tendering process at this point is troubling, he suggested, in light of the fact none of the shortlisted applicants submitted a final bid.

“When you have all three walking away, there’s obviously some issues,” he said. “This project’s costs are just ballooning.”

The CSWM board passed a motion from a staff recommendation to amend solid waste capital infrastructure expenses in 2020 by $830,601 – from $400,000 to $1,230,601 – with the additional funds to come from capital works reserves for the project. Leigh, along with her SRD electoral area colleagues Gerald Whalley and Jim Abram, voted against the motion.

The new procurement process will add up to six months to the process to get the facility built and operational. CSWM staff expect it will open in the fall of 2022, though another area of uncertainty surrounds the process of lining up all the permits.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

waste disposal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tour de Rock rolls into the Comox Valley

The tour this year featured alumni riders cycling in their specific geographic area

Online series for Valley residents affected by dementia

An estimated 70,000 British Columbians currently living with some form of dementia

Double rainbow delights following first fall storm

It was a light - or double rainbow to be exact -… Continue reading

Valley’s Father Charles Brandt to receive national lifetime achievement award

Father Charles was instrumental in creating the Oyster River Enhancement Society

Comox Valley Ringette Association requests equal ice time

The Comox Valley Ringette Association has appealed to the regional district for… Continue reading

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Two people extricated from single vehicle crash near Forbidden Plateau Road

BC Air Ambulance has been dispatched to the scene

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Most Read