A Prince Rupert business owner is angry after losing out on a contract to provide seedling shelters for the Queen Charlotte Islands.
“They have totally wasted our taxpayer money,” said Neil Forman, owner of Certified Plant Shelters, adding that he has some major concerns over how the contract was awarded. One of these concerns is that the ministry chose to purchase some of the 64,000 shelters from a company which imports its product from China.
The purchase was worth $110,000, with one-third of the plant shelters from the Chinese manufacturer, and the other two-thirds from a company on Vancouver Island, said Dave Hobbs at the Ministry of Forests.
“This could have employed 15 people in Prince Rupert for three months,” said Mr. Forman. “It would have amounted to about $50,000 in labour.”
This is not the only problem he has with the process.
“The way the contract read,” Mr. Forman said, “we only had two days to deliver the shelters down to Richmond – only to be shipped right back up to the Queen Charlottes.”
He said that the cost of this would be about $3,500.
Mr. Hobbs at the ministry said that the purchasing commission has “a very strict system,” and that it required one central delivery point to make it fair for all applicants.
Putting plant shelters around seedlings is especially critical on the islands because the deer are so pervasive, said Mr. Hobbs. The shelters are made from a variety of materials, from wire mesh to chloroplast, and without adequate protection the young trees don’t have a chance, he said.
Neil Forman stated that his product is not only proven to be adequate, but is a “better quality.” He said that one of the features is that his plant shelters disintegrate over time, eliminating the need to go out and take them off.
“All they (Ministry of Forests) are concerned about,” he said, “is how much it will cost the first time around.”
Mr. Hobbs defended the decision by saying that Mr. Forman’s bid was higher than the winning bids.
“I’m in charge of spending taxpayer dollars,” he said, “and we need to get the product that will work at the lowest price.”
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