The Merklin Street pump station and water reservoir.

Higher bid wins contract for White Rock water purchase

Staff say cost was not the only consideration behind recommendation of firm to negotiate White Rock water-utility purchase.

A contract to determine the market value of White Rock’s privately owned water utility has been awarded to the highest bidder.

Council voted unanimously Monday to task KPMG LLP with figuring out the utility’s worth and assisting the city with negotiating its purchase.

The contract cost is estimated at $21,000-$26,300, plus possible out-of-pocket travel expenses and additional hourly rates for help with negotiations.

The firm’s bid was one of two evaluated. BDO Canada LLP quoted $15,750 plus $5,250 for expenses and negotiation assistance; a third organization declined interest.

Financial services director Sandra Kurylo told council the staff recommendation was based on more than cost. She said criteria included the level of expertise in the process.

“This is a very, very important project, a significant decision for the city,” she said of the plan to purchase the utility from Edmonton-based Epcor. “It’s not just a tender where everybody does the same thing.

Council voted in June to give Epcor notice of its intention to assume ownership of its water utility and authorize staff to commence negotiations.

The decision followed review of a business case that came in the midst of Epcor’s application to B.C.’s deputy comptroller of water rights for approval to carry out $11-12 million in  upgrades to the city’s water system.

The upgrades were given the green light on June 27.

Monday, Coun. Larry Robinson thanked Kurylo and staff for efforts to find the best firm to assist the city with reclaiming the utility.

“If we’re going to be negotiating with them, we have to be taken seriously,” he said, describing money spent as “in the best interest of taxpayers.”

 

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