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Comox Strathcona awards contract for organic compost facility

Three bidders responded to second procurement attempt for project in Campbell River
Comox Strathcona Waste Management will look to a new facility to manage compost. File photo

Comox Strathcona Waste Management, after getting no final bids for its organics compost project the first time around, was a little luckier the second time.

Staff updated the board, composed of local and regional government representatives from the Comox Valley and Strathcona regions, at the latest meeting on Dec. 3 that they did receive formal other bidders this time. After the first attempt, staff changed the procurement process in the hopes of landing proposals for the project.

In mid-2020, the problem was that CSWM received no bids for the projects, which will see the current waste management centre in Campbell River become an organics compost facility while the site in the Comox Valley will serve as the landfill for the CSWM service area.

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona Waste Management gets no bids for compost facility

Initially, there had been five bids, which were reduced to three to submit formal proposals, but none did by the closing date in July, as firms had questions about staffing or the affordability of the project.

This time, CSWM changed procurement from design-build to design-bid-build, with the project going to tender separately for design and construction work. Some advantages include allowing for value engineering exercises during the design phase; providing a defined budget prior to tendering; allowing bidding from smaller local contractors, usually not suited to design-build contracts; and allowing for direct purchase of pre-engineered items such as a transfer station building or fabric building to provide cost savings.

There were three bidders by closing date in October, with the contract awarded to Sperling Hansen, a solid waste engineering firm based in North Vancouver with experience working with smaller regional districts on solid waste management. It will also be working with Net Zero Waste, which has operated a pilot project at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre since 2013.

“We’re working through a detailed design currently,” acting manager of CSWM capital projects Cole Makinson told the board.

He expects there will be a public input period in late winter or spring next year.

With the delay, there was some concern around the timeline and what this might mean to grants used to fund the capital project. In response, he said, “The grants were extended till March 31, 2022…. They might need a slight extension.”

Construction could start in the latter half of 2021, as would the request for proposals for operation, which is slated to begin in fall 2022.

Earlier at the meeting, some board members had questions about whether CSWM should’ve considered other options such as shipping waste to Nanaimo, but for others, their patience is wearing thin.

“I can’t say enough that we need to get on and get this project completed and operational…. Every delay is increasing the cost of the project, jeopardizes the grants, diminishes the credibility of this board and the service,” said Andy Adams, Campbell River’s mayor and one of the CSWM board members.

He cited a recent article in Building Links to contrast this organics compost project with a proposed organics project for the Sunshine Coast.

“They are moving ahead. We have, for the past six years, flip-flopped and sent mixed messages to staff,” he said. “It’s long past time to get on with it.”

According to the CSWM website, the project will cost an estimated $15.5 million. Of this, $6.4 million will come from grants and $9.1 million from reserves and tipping fees.

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