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City looks to support local businesses after sole-sourcing purchase denied

A request to replace parts of the Lloydminster Fire Department’s radio system had city councillors discussing the appropriate time to sole-source a project.

City council budgeted the purchase of 22 new AFRRCS portable radios for the fire department in November 2019. The fire department requested new radios to eliminate the need to have two separate portable radio types and help standardize their equipment.

Administration chose to recommend purchasing the radios from Whyte Communications Inc. in Edmonton without putting the matter up for bid for other vendors. 

The reason they chose to sole-source was the department had bought 10 portable radios from the company before and wanted to keep the new purchases within the same standard. It would also standardize the services and warranties for the radios.

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The price for the radios submitted by Whyte Communications was $91,172 which was below the budgeted $100,000.

Council made a motion to request more information which could include consulting local vendors on their pricing for the radios.

“We would like more information to be absolutely clear to the residents and businesses in the community that we are spending almost $92,000 and it wasn’t going to have an opportunity to potentially be a local vendor if they can supply exactly the same requirements,” says Mayor Gerald Aalbers.

Council voted 4-2 on the motion with Councillors Jonathan Torresan and Michael Diachuk opposing. Torresan says he respects the administration’s decision to sole-source the buy but it should be used when appropriate.

“Within our purchasing policy it allows for sole sourcing and we have to be careful as a local government that we are using sole sourcing in the right way.”

His reason for voting against the motion was now with Whyte Communications revealing their pricing it is no longer fair.

“One vendor has already identified their pricing and now it’s not exactly fair because of the process we went through.”

Mayor Aalbers says ultimately council wants to do what is best for businesses in the community.

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“The economic times are challenging for every business in this community and we want to support them as best we can.”

The matter will be brought before council again after city staff gather more information and make their recommendations.

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