Council eyes ‘Buy Orangeville’ labour requirement in tenders

November 26, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 1.37.19 AMBy Tabitha Wells

If it is both plausible and legal, Town of Or- angeville tenders could be awarded only to applicants who either promise to employ local residents, or are local companies.

During Monday night’s Council meeting, Councillor Nick Garisto brought forward a motion that would direct staff to ‘investigate options within the tendering process that could allow for local residents to be hired if the suc- cessful bidder is in need of additional labour’.

The motion also directed staff to investigate the tendering process to see whether it would be a plausible idea to begin using a points system, in which a bidder would receive additional points for either being a local business or using local residents for additional labour.There were a few concerns about both the points system, as well as the legality of only hiring a company that agrees to hire local individuals should they have a need for extra employees.

“I have an issue with awarding extra points for having local workers or being a local company,” said Councillor Gail Campbell. “They may not be the best organization for the job. I appreciate what Councillor Garisto is trying to do in hiring local people – we all want that – but we need to hire on merit, and I’m worried a point system would skew the results and we would end up with someone who is not best suited for the job.”

One option suggested by Mayor Jeremy Williams was to make the local angle worth a single point, and develop a points system that would be more well-rounded.

“Using a points system, you could have it where a company is awarded a variety of points for various things, and the local aspect could be worth only one point,” he suggested. “That way, it would simply be a tie-breaker. If two companies were the same on merit, it would only be awarded to local organizations if they were the same as or better than the others.”

Councillor Sylvia Bradley’s concern with the motion was with the ability to monitor the situation once the tender was awarded.

“I understand the thinking behind the motion, but feel it would be cumbersome to administer,” she said. “I have no idea how we would be able to know if they hired locally or not after the contract has ben given. There is going to be an awful lot of staff time involved, and an awful lot of administration required for very little gain.”

The issue of legality was brought up by Councillor Don Kidd, who also expressed concerns with timelines for the companies.

“There is a lot of training involved, particularly around health and safety, when hiring an employee into this type of company,” said Councillor Kidd. “We all want people in Orangeville to work. I will support the motion, so that we can see what staff can dig up.”

Mayor Williams reminded Council that the benefit of passing the motion is that it was merely a request to have staff investigate these as possible options, not implement them.

“As far as I am concerned, if we can investigate options that could give our local citizens more jobs, then we need to do that,” said Mayor Williams. “They may come back to us and tell us it won’t work. I do support the motion because of that; staff will come back and tell us whether it can be done, and whether it’s even legal to discriminate based on where people live.”

Prior to calling the vote, Councillor Scott Wilson added his concerns regarding both the le- gality, and wasting staff time should it turn out to be illegal. He added that this kind of motion could affect many successful businesses.

“When I think about our most successful organizations, I think of R.J. Burnside, and all the work they have done,” said Councillor Wilson. “I guarantee they do more work outside of Orangeville than they do here. If they got shut out of their jobs for not being local, imagine the economic impact that would have.”

Despite the concerns raised, however, Councillor Garisto felt it was important to move forward with the motion.

“I hear the comments from Council, but I think we owe it to the people in town, the bidders, and the businesses here,” he said.

The motion carried, and staff will bring back a report on the discussion.

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