Voakes Upset Over Decision To Award Road Work To Out Of Town Company

One Essex councillor is fuming over a decision to go head with a road rehabilitation project, despite only getting one bidder to do the work.

Randy Voakes says the town's procurement policy is flawed, making the bidding process for local contractors more difficult than it should be.

In a tight 4-3 vote Tuesday night, council awarded the rehabilitation of Gore Rd and Concession Rd 8 to Norjohn Contracting of Niagara Falls at a cost of $549,000.

Voakes says specifications in the town's policy didn't allow local companies bid.

"That bothers me because it directly affects the companies within our community, it affects the taxpayers within our community, it affects the jobs of people in our community. There's no reason at all we couldn't have tabled that and brought it back. That would have afforded somebody else, locally, to bid on that job."

He says council heard directly from a local company claiming the work could be done for $180,000 less.

"The emails we received were from a reputable, local company who has been in business for 35 years. The email said very clearly that for a significant amount of money less I can do that process. Now, we've boxed up well over half a million dollars and we've shipped it out of town."

With an election around the corner, Voakes says he's been accused by fellow councillors of grandstanding, but that's not the case.

"Those same arguments would have been casted in my first week of being re-elected in 2014. If anybody knows me, they would understand the merit and the creditability of my position. It disheartens me to see that work leave our community."

Voakes adds, ultimately, he would have liked to see the specs tweaked and the project sent out to tender again.

Councillor Sherry Bondy suggested the plan be shelved altogether and left in the hands of the next council.

The rehab work will take place on Gore Rd between Wright Rd and County Rd 20 and on Concession Rd 8 from Coulter Rd to Ferris Side Rd.