The City of Greater Sudbury is moving forward with plans for a new arena project, despite concerns from construction companies about a potential conflict of interest involving one of the bidders.
In February, as part of an addendum to a request for proposals (RFP) document for a new $100 million arena, the city released a list of 40 questions — and answers — to allay bidders’ concerns about the process. .
Some of those concerns raised in the list involve Sudbury-based contractor TESC, which is heavily involved in private developments surrounding the arena site, and whose CEO, Dario Zulich, first sold the city on his vision of an entertainment district in the east of the city in 2017.
“This is an unfair requirement to evaluate given that one of the Proponents responding to this RFP is the casino and hotel developer and has the ability to influence its design to complete the facilities” , reads one of the questions.
Zulich, whose plan for KED includes a hotel and casino, also owns the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, which will be the arena’s main tenant.
Bidders PCL and Ellis Don, the other two companies on the shortlist, also raised questions about the project’s design integration with a casino and a hotel, two private investments with builders not obligated to follow. the city’s deadlines for the construction of a new arena.
“We are unsure how exactly the developer can ensure that our timeline and design is incorporated into the development of the casino and hotel,” read another of the questions.
“Once the city has an approved Project Completion Agreement (PCA), the city will work with the hotel, casino, and design-build teams on site design and construction schedules. “, indicates the answer of the city. “All appropriate and relevant information will be shared with all design-build teams as the hotel and casino schedules progress.”
A fair process, says the city
Kevin Fowke, the city’s general manager of business services, told CBC News that posting this list of questions and answers was a way to ensure that all parties – including parties who can still submit offers – that the rules of the game are fair.
“Whether it’s a Q&A session or a specific addendum that changes an initial market, it’s distributed to everyone equally at the same time and it’s in the public domain,” Fowke said. “So that it is fair and equitable for all involved in the process.”
Fowke said he was not surprised by the attention the list has received since its publication, given the importance of the upcoming project.
“As far as projects go, this is one of the biggest we’ve undertaken as a city,” Fowke said. “It’s an important build for us. It’s an important project… but I think people just want to know and want to make sure we’re following the processes we have in place to ensure fairness between bidders and ensure that there is no conflict of interest.