Timmins Chamber urges City purchasing to better support local business

Date ArticleType
9/23/2014 Press Release

Timmins, ON, Sept. 23, 2014—The City of Timmins should change its purchasing processes to give local businesses more clarity and better opportunities to compete, according to a new report by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

Presented to Timmins City Council on Sept. 22 by Chamber President Al Thorne, Business Climate Improvement: Report on Municipal Procurement outlines 14 specific ways the City can improve how it acquires goods and services.

“Fundamentally, Timmins businesses are just looking for better ways to participate in the City’s purchasing process,” said Thorne.

“We believe there are fair, cost-effective measures that the City can put in place that would enhance its ability to support local businesses, which would in turn help to boost Timmins’ economy. Anything that helps to keep public money in Timmins is something that benefits everyone, though our businesses fully understand that local support depends on providing good, reliable service at a competitive price.”

The report’s recommendations revolve around four main themes: improving the pre-qualification process, providing more information for bidders, improving clarity in the City’s Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and providing businesses with better access to municipal purchasing opportunities.

Some represent simple and easily implemented solutions, such as enhancing the City website to better assist interested bidders in finding the appropriate staff to answer questions. Other solutions will require longer-term collaboration, such as creating a working group of City and business representatives to conduct a full review of the municipality’s pre-qualification process.

These recommendations emerged from the efforts of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce’s Municipal Affairs Committee, which began to undertake the development of the report in 2013 after members identified municipal procurement as a priority. The recommendations were generated over the course of several months following numerous one-on-one interviews, surveys and roundtable discussions with Timmins businesses.

Throughout this process of consultation, the Committee was careful to respect the implications that Ontario’s Municipal Act and the federal Competition Act have for municipal procurement. As recommendations were developed, it was understood that the Acts impose clear restrictions on municipalities’ ability to mandate local preferences for purchasing; it was equally understood that these measures also protect taxpayers from potentially predatory practices, said Thorne.

As such, the report avoids local content requirements in favor of solutions that would make it easier for Timmins businesses to learn about and bid for municipal procurement contracts. This includes a recommendation that the City avoid naming specific manufacturers in its RFPs unless necessary for repair purposes.

Other similar suggestions reflect those that have previously been posed by City Council, such as examining alternative credit options for large projects, such as a performance bond, to allow more small and medium-sized businesses to bid.

“It was crucial that the report strikes a strong balance between fiscal responsibility and an improved business climate,” said Thorne. “In the end, we’re confident that these solutions stand as a careful, measured response that achieves just that. We look forward to working with the City in the coming months to monitor the progress being made on these important recommendations.”

This marks the second such report that the Timmins Chamber of Commerce has created in the last two years. The first, Business Climate Improvement: Report on Development, was presented to Timmins City Council in February 2013, and focused on finding ways to make it easier for businesses to undertake development in the City of Timmins. Several of those recommendations have since been implemented, and the Chamber continues to monitor progress, said Thorne.

The Chamber makes every effort to be as inclusive as possible of its members’ views so as best to represent their interests at all levels of government. Members who have business issues – municipal, provincial, or federal – that they would like to see addressed are encouraged to contact the Chamber.

To view the report, visit http://tinyurl.com/BCI-Purchasing

About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce
With over 750 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

Nick Stewart
Manager of Policy, Research and Communications
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900