Today’s Poll

Council creates policy ensuring they "buy local" first

Nelson Daily Editor
By Nelson Daily Editor
January 12th, 2011

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

In order to keep it as local as they could, City council approved an amendment to their newly adopted purchase policy Monday night to make it legal.

Coun. Donna Macdonald was quick to propose an amendment to the purchasing policy when it was introduced Monday night, an attempt to ensure local businesses were keep front and centre as the City went about its business.

The City was required to adopt the purchase policy to reflect new provincial and federal trade agreements that also require municipal governments to consider outside bids in their procuring of goods and services.

But Coun. Macdonald asked council to consider adding in “guiding principle number eight,” to give preference to suppliers of goods and services who hold a business licence in the West Kootenay area, assuming compliance with such agreements as TILMA (Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement) and assuming their pricing quality and experience were comparable with non-local suppliers.

The amendment solved the problem of keeping it local, said Coun. Kim Charlesworth.

“It was a way of defining it,” said Coun. Macdonald. “It’s not going to be perfect … but it gives a direction that, where possible and all things being equal,” that the City goes with the local supplier.

Coun. Charlesworth felt it was a hollow gesture to say the City supported local business if they did not somehow include a written reference to whether the City  was obligated to do it.

“And this gives enough direction that it achieves the purpose,” said Coun. Charlesworth.

Coun. Deb Kozak wondered if the amendment would make it clear for staff when it came to purchasing.

City manager Kevin Cormack said they already look for a local supplier for any purchase or service. He also said a City work contract would not be awarded without a City of Nelson business licence.

For the purchase of goods, a Nelson business licence is not required.

“But we’ll just have to work through it and see if it ends up problematic or not,” he said. “I don’t think it will change the way we buy right now, since we do look local first. There’s enough flexibility in (the amendment) to allow us to purchase wisely and not cost taxpayers additional funds.”

“So the current practice is, whenever possible, we do support local business?” asked Coun. Kozak.

“We do. Unless it was something we could not get locally,” said Cormack.

So we’re simply reinforcing currently policy by putting it into bylaw and always ensuring that it is there, said Coun. Macdonald.

The amendment and the policy were approved by council.

Note: See the attached six-page policy for more information. Of interest is page 5 on the amount of signing authority allowed for members of City staff.



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