Greenhouse upset over bid rejection

A local greenhouse that has provided flowers for the town’s hanging baskets and flower beds each spring is demanding an explanation for a potentially crippling loss of the town’s business.

Sandra Lester contacted the Town of Hay River on Feb. 20 regarding her company’s bid for the request for quotation.

The RFQ was sent out by the town in early February and both the local based Patterson’s and Steed Farms from Fort Smith sent in bids, with Steed quoting $4,000 just slightly higher than Patterson’s $3,900.

Lester found out on Feb. 20 that the bid for 60 hanging baskets of pink petunias was awarded to Steed and the planters were to be announced at a later date.

Lester said the reason provided for the decision was due to coordination efforts, and a tree had already been ordered to plant in front of town hall. The plan was to match the tree plants with those hanging off of light posts around town.

“We have never received anything negative from them,” said Lester. “(The town has) always accepted our bids. We’ve bent over backwards for the town.”

Lester said for the last six years, Patterson’s Greenvalley Gardens has been in charge of delivering the flowers. She said last year she even pointed out that the flowers ordered were incorrect, and suggested a different type for this year to make the hanging pots as attractive as possible.

“I just don’t understand,” said Lester.  “And without this contract, I won’t be able to keep the greenhouse open.”

Lester quoted bylaw 1574 section 2 in an e-mail addressed to mayor and council on Feb. 22 stating that in her eyes, a legal document was not adhered to by awarding the contract to Steed.

“This bylaw clearly states that when there are local suppliers a tender remains in the community,” said Lester in her e-mail.

But she said this is more than just another company getting the job instead of her own.

“They are taking our tax dollars and spending it elsewhere,” said Lester. “If the town is spending money, it should be in town.”

She addressed council members during the Feb. 27 regular meeting searching for answers and an update on the contract.

Council members said they were unsure as to why the contract had been awarded to an out-of-town company, when a competent one was located within their borders.

Coun. Dawna O’Brien, along with other councillors, said there had been some complaints last year regarding the flower pots, but some of the deterioration of the flowers was to be attributed to the maintenance they received, such as over-watering throughout the

The question of where the matter stood was directed to director of recreation Tammy Buchanan who said at this time, the contract had already been awarded and the order had been made.

“We are just waiting for the flowers to arrive,” said Buchanan who added the contract was awarded to Steed due to the quality of the flowers.

Senior administrative officer Mike Richardson asked how council wished to proceed with the issue and deputy mayor Mike Maher suggested that Buchanan call Steed the following day to see what the penalty would be if an already-processing order was cancelled.