Councillors Carrie Powell-Davidson and Teresa Patterson admitted Monday night they didn’t understand the technical requirements in a request for proposals for the City of Parksville to broadcast their council meetings online.
Yet the pair voted to quash a proposed tender that would have awarded a three-year contract to Ottawa-based iSi Global. With only four members of council at Monday’s meeting, the recommendation failed in the resulting tie vote.
The awarding of the contract had been approved by city council at a committee of the whole meeting on June 20. It only required a similar vote July 18 to go ahead.
The two councillors’ reasoning for voting against the contract this time, they said, was perceived ambiguity in the original request for proposals that went out to businesses in February — and the apparent lack of weighing the matter in favour of local businesses.
Powell-Davidson, who admitted she didn’t read the request for proposals closely enough, led the opposition to staff’s recommendation to hire iSi Global.
“We should do our due diligence, yes, but what concerns me are local capabilities. We can get that human contact with a local provider.”
She suggested council look at streaming their meetings online in a one-year pilot project, instead of in a three-year deal. She also claimed this was an openness issue for council, stating going with a local contractor would deliver better quality video and resident access. Upon trying to ask a question of Chris Raines, owner of Raines Broadcasting, who was in the audience, Powell-Davidson was shut down by acting mayor Chris Burger, stating that would fall outside of the legal parameters of the process. Doing so, he said, would be unfair to the other bidders.
Raines Broadcasting had bid $12,000 for one year of online video service. iSi Global had bid $5,000/year for $15,000 over three years. They were two of seven bidders in the project.
Powell-Davidson, who works under contract for the Oceanside Star newspaper — whose editor co-hosts a video talk show with Raines Broadcasting — denied she was under outside pressure to force the bidding process back to the start.
She said she was surprised by what the city was looking for in its request for proposals.
“Maybe we’re not quite ready,” she said.
Patterson claimed the process didn’t compare apples to apples — a claim questioned by the city’s chief administrative officer Fred Manson, who said the request for proposals was open for anyone to bid. The city’s new director of administrative services, Debbie Comis, said in a report the process was fair, but was concerned that “certain vendors had requested opportunity to present additional information to staff and council.”
Manson admitted there could have been some literary license taken, but the tender still gave service providers a wide variety of parameters on which to bid.
“Can this go out to tender again?” asked Patterson.
Manson said yes, as long as council gives staff their requirements. He asked council — specifically Powell-Davidson — what they were looking for.
She emphasized getting quality video — something she said was being offered by Raines over iSi Global.
After the recommendation was defeated and the process sent back for a re-start, Coun. Al Grier said he wanted a limit on the cost of such a service.
“I’m not sure how many people watch these videos,” he said. “If no one is watching it, then it’s not worth it.”
Service Required iSi Raines
Live streaming Yes Yes
On demand viewing Yes Yes
Use or City cameras Yes Yes
Unlimited webcasts Yes No
Unlimited viewer stats Yes No (upon
Retention of files for
long-term record keeping Yes No
Limited archive storage No limit No answer
Searchable content Yes No
Local company No Yes
References provided Yes No
Advance scheduling Yes No
Annual cost $5,000 $12,000
Full bid information on all seven proposals can be found at the City of Parksville’s website (www.city.parksville.bc.ca) by searching the June 20, 2011 committee of the whole agenda, via the interactive calendar on the home page.