Questions on septic re-inspection contract
By Chad Ingram
Published May 11, 2017
Algonquin Highlands township is on the verge of signing of five-year contract with WSP Canada for the re-inspection of septic systems in the municipality.
However, during a May 4 meeting, council had a few questions regarding the contract, particularly around per diem lunch costs for company employees, and the matter will come back to the council table at a subsequent meeting.
The Aurora-based WSP Canada was the sole bid the township received on a request for proposals for the project. While septic tank inspections were once the purview of health units, that responsibility has been shifted to municipalities.
At an estimated cost of $180 plus taxes per property, the total cost for the five-year project, including HST, is just more than $900,000.
“The proponent included a per diem rate for instances that may occur if their staff are required to stay the night or when it is unreasonable for staff to provide a home-packed meal: meals $60/day and accommodations $125/night,” read a report from chief building official and bylaw officer Dave Rogers.
“Who determines what’s reasonable for staff not being able to pack their own lunch?” asked Reeve Carol Moffatt.
“I think what you’re looking at is unusual circumstances,” said Rogers, adding the company had given him the impression this would not happen frequently.
“We don’t want to enter into what is a million-dollar project and get nickel and dimed every day for lunch,” Moffatt said.
“If I was a taxpayer, I’d be saying, am I getting my septic inspected, or am I paying for lunch?” said Councillor Lisa Barry.
All of the scheduling for inspections, which will require property owners to be home to remove the lids from their septic tanks, will be done by the company, not the municipality.
Moffatt said she’d also like to see improvements to the draft letter that will go out to property owners.
“We need to use what’s called clear language,” she said.
Councillor Marlene Kyle said she’d like to see a presentation from the company before agreeing to the contact.
“Being a million-dollar project, I personally would be more comfortable to have the company come in,” Kyle said.
Moffatt said the township had gone through the RFP process it undertakes for any project, and that council had already made a resolution to bring back an agreement.
“I need to see it,” Kyle said.
“There’s been plenty of time to ask for that,” said Moffatt. “Council could have asked questions to staff at any time.”
Councillor Brian Lynch, who noted he’s already getting questions from the public, said he also wanted more information about the inspection process itself.