Morven Construction awarded lucrative contract to extend Napanee’s Circuit Rider Drive

Circuit Rider Drive is north of Highway 401 in Napanee. Image from Google Maps.

The Council of the Town of Greater Napanee has awarded Morven Construction Ltd. a contract for the extension of Circuit Rider Drive for the sum of $594,799.56. At a special meeting on Thursday, Jul. 27, 2023, Council approved a budget of $664,799.56 total for the project.

According to Morven Construction’s website, it is “Eastern Ontario’s leading company for heavy civil infrastructure projects. Based in Napanee, Morven has spent over 30 years gaining a province-wide reputation for their commitment to client-centred service and creative solutions to technically complex projects.” Readers may recall that recently the president of Morven Construction, Murray Aitken, purchased a town surplus property for $1.5 million.

According to a report presented by Jeff Cuthill, Director of Capital Works for the Town, as part of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale of 10.75 acres of commercial property on Circuit Rider Drive, the Town agreed to road extension work to be completed within 12 months of the purchase date. The tender for this road work was prepared by Jewell Engineering Inc. and advertised through Biddingo on Friday, Jun. 23, 2023, with closing at 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Jul. 12, 2023.

“This was a tender put out for extension of approximately 100 metres of roadway, in water and sanitary servicing on Circuit Rider Drive. This was triggered by a land sale agreement … [which] stated that services and road network must be extended within 12 months of purchase date,” explained Cuthill, saying staff had worked with Jewell Engineering to form the tender.

The report states that work required by the winning bidder would include but not be limited to the following;

  • Right-of-way clearing, grubbing, earth strippings
  • Full-depth road reconstruction, granular base and subbase material placement
  • Earth excavation
  • Rock excavation
  • Hot mix paving
  • Sanitary sewer installation
  • Water main installation
  • Site restorations

Two “very competitive” bids were received, according to Cuthill. According to the report, Jewell Engineering staff, Greater Napanee staff members, and representation from the bidders were present for the public opening, shortly after 2 p.m. on July 12, 2023. Morven Construction Ltd. bid $584,511.00 (excluding HST), while J. Harrison Excavating & Pipeline Ltd. bid $590,215.75 (excluding HST), approximately $5,700 dollars higher.

“Upon ranking the bids, the low bid was still recommended as the first bid to receive by Council,” Cuthill noted.

Cuthill’s report included details regarding criteria other than price by which staff evaluate bids. These included the standard considerations of project references and company experience, as well as project staff, proposed/company resources, and the provision of work plan and schedule. The tender also included the standard statement that the lowest tender may not necessarily be awarded the contract.

Just off Kimmetts Side Road and near Goodyear Road, the road extension is part of more commercial land development. Image from Google Maps.

Based on the submitted bid from Morven Construction Ltd., as well as expenses for engineering, tender documents, part-time inspection, contract administration, as-built drawings, and contingency, a total project cost of $664,799.56 including HST was recommended by staff, the report states. If the road extension work is not completed within 12 months from the purchase date, then the Town’s option to repurchase will not be in effect until three years from the purchase date.

While not mentioned by Cuthill in his brief summary, the report also included a “Finance Comment” that stated, “This procurement deviated from the procurement by-law. This procurement was posted on Biddingo rather than Bids and Tenders, was not posted on the Town’s website and was only posted for 20 days rather than the recommended 25. Finance staff advised the department issuing the [Request for Tender] and directed that [it] be taken down and reposted accordingly. This instruction was not followed.”

Kingstonist has inquired about the finance department’s note but has not yet received a response.

It should be noted that the Town has recently engaged in a procurement review due to what it calls “deviations” from its procurement policy. Procurement review work by KPMG is estimated to cost up to $100,000, according to Treasurer Nicole Davidson’s report, and a public report on the results of the procurement review is anticipated in the fall of 2023.

The only questions asked of Cuthill came from Councillor Dave Pinnell, who inquired about the expected start and end dates for the construction. Cuthill said construction would likely begin within the month and would likely take two months to complete, and that it must be complete by October 31, 2023, as per the tender.

Pinnell also inquired as to whether gas lines were being installed along the road. Cuthill responded that staff were working with Enbridge: “It’s a juggling act of getting enough development in there… The more development and land sales you have, the more load you can allocate to the installation of the gas main… We will be coming back to Council in all hopes with getting this done on the contract timeline, getting gas to come right in afterwards and install gas.”

Also on the agenda for this special meeting of Council was a matter related to personal information about identifiable individuals, which Council adjourned to closed session (pursuant to Section 239 of the Municipal Act) to discuss for just over an hour.

Upon receiving information regarding the procurement process for the Circuit Rider Drive extension, Kingstonist will provide further coverage of this matter.

As always, you can read full Council meeting agendas on Napanee’s civic web online, and watch meetings live or recorded on the town’s YouTube channel.

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