Mayor denies any wrong doing
Legal opinions have been sought and it would appear that there was nothing illegal in the awarding of the contract to build the public boat launch.
At the District of Sooke regular council meeting on February 14, Mayor Janet Evans read out a statement which stated, “The District of Sooke learned recently of allegations that its award of a boat launch contract to Heavy Metal Marine (HMM) was somehow tainted by the inclusion in the HMM bid of a reference to other HMM work done allegedly for free for the District several years ago. The District has a definitive legal opinion on the matter. I cannot release it due to privilege and confidentiality issues, but after receiving the legal opinion, the District remains confident that the contract award was valid and not tainted in any way…”
Evans said HMM did not work for the district and the work they did on the marine boardwalk in 2007 was for the private developer of Mariners’ Village, not the district. A marina was being built at the Mariners’ Village site and the equipment which could be used for the boardwalk was already in Sooke.
The question has been raised as to the inclusion in the RFP from HMM of a statement saying an amount of $203,062 would be deferred in the event HMM was selected as the preferred proponent.
Brian Freethy has been reported as saying that they didn’t owe him cash for that, they owed him “consideration for that.”
In conclusion she stated that if HMM did any work, they did it for the developer (Mariner’s Village).
She said HMM had the lowest bid and scored the highest on evaluation criteria. She went on to say no council member was influenced by the “alleged free work” done by HMM and any free work was done for a private developer not for the district.
When questioned Evans said she checked and said there was never any cheques written to Heavy Metal Marine for work on the boardwalk.
CAO Evan Parliament said the district entered into a contract with Mariners’ Village to do the work on the boardwalk as they already had a crew in place. He said the province had no requirements as to sub-contracting and public tenders, in regard to grant money.
Parliament said he was happy with the work done by HMM and although HMM is now unhappy with some of the language Parliament used, he said he was “protecting the taxpayer.”
Back in 2007 the boardwalk had been a controversial issue with some Sooke residents. Grants were obtained from the Olympic/Paralympic Live Sites program for $330,000 plus another $578,000 from the Casino Revenue fund. At the time spokespersons for Heavy Metal Marine said they would contribute the estimated $60,000 necessary to upgrade the access point at Ed Macgregor Park.
The total cost of the boardwalk project, at the time, was estimated to be $1.3 million.
The estimated cost of the public boat launch is $1,099.197.52. Of this amount, a grant for $605,000 was awarded to the district by the federal government, plus $200,000 from Prestige Hotels plus a $500,000 “in kind” contribution from the hotel. The remaining $300,000 comes from the District of Sooke.
Construction was halted on the boat launch when it was learned that proper consent was not received from the province, but has since commenced.