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Rushed decision may have lasting impact

RE: Council approves Bragg Creek broadband study, article, May 7.

Dear Editor,

As a retired consultant and a Rocky View County (RVC) resident who wants better Internet service, I find it concerning to see council award such a significant contract without competitive bidding.

Improving Internet service in RVC is important, but I expect County administration to do its homework before committing to spending that much money. Especially since they decided to override the procurement policy to fast track a single-source contract of $82,000. As a taxpayer, I would hope the requirement to get quotes on contracts more than $10,000 and competitive bidding for contracts more than $50,000 are more than window-dressing to pacify taxpayers.

In my two decades of consulting experience, I only received single-source contracts from municipalities in emergency situations or when I was the only one who bid for the job. This is taxpayer money, not private business, and the process must be fair.

Council already had the first phase of a two-part study underway. In my opinion, the whole change of plans raises red flags.

Lots of rural Canadian municipalities want improved Internet service for residents and there are many government initiatives available. As a result, there are lots of qualified consultants to choose from. So, why did council direct administration to go with a single source?

The article states Coun. Kim McKylor wants to make sure there is no bias for Bragg Creek. Why would a group called Bragg Creek Connect get involved if it didn’t believe it would be beneficial for their own residents? How will the County ensure there will be fair process for those of us who do not live in Bragg Creek?

Provincial grants aren’t available until later this year. If the Bragg Creek group was willing to fund its own study and administration was already doing its own study, why not run them both at the same time? The redundancies between an isolated community like Bragg Creek and the rest of the communities in the county would be insignificant.

What happens if the County doesn’t get the grant money? Does RVC have to cover the whole cost or does the project just vaporize into cyberspace?

Council seems to have put all its eggs into one basket presented by a small special interest group. Maybe the rest of us will get something useful out of it, but I am worried this important project may now fall off its tracks.

J.D. Tremblay

Division 4