Union Station Revitalization | ?m | ?s | City of Toronto | NORR

Richard White

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I took a look down into the Food Court this morning and it looked substantially complete. It looks like it could open by December 1st but it would need a deep and through cleaning first.
 

DSC

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It takes a special touch to choose a contractor that went bankrupt only to be followed by another with apparent financial distress. That's a pretty damning track record - among other high profile examples that calls into question the procurement practices of the City.

AoD
It is certainly not only the City - many of the customers of both Carillion and Bondfield are governments - who are almost always obliged to accept the lowest compliant tender. Though the City were well aware of Bondfield's problems, they won the North St Lawrence Market contractin early 2018 as lowest bidder but could then not come up with the necessary $$$ guarantees. This all greatly delayed that project as the City had to go out for bids again - they are currently being evaluated. Not sure that allowing governments to NOT accept lowest compliant bids would be better as that would open the process up to 'favouritism' and the 'envelope under the table' that was quite common in the past.
 

Richard White

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It takes a special touch to choose a contractor that went bankrupt only to be followed by another with apparent financial distress. That's a pretty damning track record - among other high profile examples that calls into question the procurement practices of the City.

AoD
Honestly, it is about getting what you paid for and the fact that the public purse is always under scrutiny,

The City of Toronto goes for the most part goes with the lowest bidder to placate the taxpayers and accountants. It is a double edged sword, you pay less for the end result but at the same time you get cheaper quality and more headaches. Just because someone says they can do the same work as the highest bidder for a lower cost does not mean they can, there is almost always a catch.

What people need to realize is that you get what you pay for. If you want quality work, you pay a higher price. Top quality craftsman do not work for a bargain basement price. Think of it like putting a roof on a house. Do you think the roofer will use the best quality materials if they are giving you a cash discount along with a discounted price? The roofer will use cheaper materials and his second rate employees in order to offset the discount he gave you.

The same goes for the Union Station renovations, if the City of Toronto wanted quality work, they need to understand it comes at a price. The best companies out there, the ones that have the most experienced employees will not do the job for a bargain price as they do not need to. Contractors let their work speak for themselves and when they are good at what they do they can command a much higher price for their work.

As I said, if you pay a cheaper price you will get apprentices and people who need to be babysat.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Well, there needs to be a reputational factor - and scores has to be adjusted accordingly because clearly using the bid price in and on itself has been a recipe for disaster. The city needs to do some post-mortem as to how out of whack their processes have been.

AoD
 

Northern Light

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Introduce legislation that requires governments to go with the second lowest qualifying bid. You'll get more reasonable bids in the first place (as purposefully underbidding will no longer be rewarded), and should make the firms responsible more financially surefooted.

42
Definitely a route worth considering.

There are also other options.

Insert warranty requirements. This is currently done w/tree planting. All contractors supplying and planting trees for the City must warranty their survival for 2 years or replace them at their own cost.

Now, it's worth saying this is not enforced as well as it might be, though it is, sometimes.

You could likewise leave a contractor on the hook to remedy any deficiencies or things that go wrong w/i a 2-5 years of project completion. The way to do this would be a performance bond to ensure that that the contractor doesn't fold their tent and run.

You could also withhold the final 10% of payment pending independent verification that the project is complete, deficiency-free.

***

Another important measure is properly trained City project managers. Many do not have enough experience w/trades or construction to oversee work properly.

It's normal in projects of size to have to sub spec'ed materials as things become unavailable or circumstances change.

A challenge is that a contractor goes to a City project manager and says 'we can't get 'x' tile or this type of tree or whatever and the manager in question has no concept of the relative importance of what was spec'ed in the first place
or whether the substitution is a reasonable equivalent.

As an example, a major streetscape project was done a year or two ago in the City, where the tender spec'ed red oaks.

The contractor claimed after winning the bid that they were unable to get red oaks in the fall (BS); they then proposed to substitute Crimson Norway Maples (a non-native, invasive that Parks won't plant anymore).

The project manager was not a forester or ecologist, clearly had no idea there was a policy against planting Norway Maple, and approved the substitution.

This sort of thing happens all too often in a variety of different ways.

***

There is a need for better tender writing.

I've read more than a few in my day, and it never ceases to amaze me what isn't said.

Some would think it 'common sense', but if you don't say certain things....

I will afford an example from the private sector, a major landlord hired a company to repaint the common areas of several buildings.

The tender said not much more than that. Shall paint the following common areas at properties 'x', 'y' and 'z'.

The work was awarded to the lowest bidder.

The paint job was done so poorly (bubbling and peeling within days) the work had to be entirely re-done by a different contractor, costing a lot of $$$

Here's what was missing in the tender:

- no requirement to clean the surfaces or sand prior to painting.
- no specification as to paint quality
- no specification as to using drop cloths (painters managed to drop paint over several sections of new carpet)
- no specification that the painters themselves had to have any experience or be supervised by anyone with experience (several painters were total novices)

If you want Quality, you must make that clear in the tender.

***

Finally, the City must adopt a clear program of adversely scoring or banning from bids, poorly performing contractors.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Definitely a route worth considering.

There are also other options.

Insert warranty requirements. This is currently done w/tree planting. All contractors supplying and planting trees for the City must warranty their survival for 2 years or replace them at their own cost.

Now, it's worth saying this is not enforced as well as it might be, though it is, sometimes.

You could likewise leave a contractor on the hook to remedy any deficiencies or things that go wrong w/i a 2-5 years of project completion. The way to do this would be a performance bond to ensure that that the contractor doesn't fold their tent and run.

You could also withhold the final 10% of payment pending independent verification that the project is complete, deficiency-free.

***

Another important measure is properly trained City project managers. Many do not have enough experience w/trades or construction to oversee work properly.

It's normal in projects of size to have to sub spec'ed materials as things become unavailable or circumstances change.

A challenge is that a contractor goes to a City project manager and says 'we can't get 'x' tile or this type of tree or whatever and the manager in question has no concept of the relative importance of what was spec'ed in the first place
or whether the substitution is a reasonable equivalent.

As an example, a major streetscape project was done a year or two ago in the City, where the tender spec'ed red oaks.

The contractor claimed after winning the bid that they were unable to get red oaks in the fall (BS); they then proposed to substitute Crimson Norway Maples (a non-native, invasive that Parks won't plant anymore).

The project manager was not a forester or ecologist, clearly had no idea there was a policy against planting Norway Maple, and approved the substitution.

This sort of thing happens all too often in a variety of different ways.

***

There is a need for better tender writing.

I've read more than a few in my day, and it never ceases to amaze me what isn't said.

Some would think it 'common sense', but if you don't say certain things....

I will afford an example from the private sector, a major landlord hired a company to repaint the common areas of several buildings.

The tender said not much more than that. Shall paint the following common areas at properties 'x', 'y' and 'z'.

The work was awarded to the lowest bidder.

The paint job was done so poorly (bubbling and peeling within days) the work had to be entirely re-done by a different contractor, costing a lot of $$$

Here's what was missing in the tender:

- no requirement to clean the surfaces or sand prior to painting.
- no specification as to paint quality
- no specification as to using drop cloths (painters managed to drop paint over several sections of new carpet)
- no specification that the painters themselves had to have any experience or be supervised by anyone with experience (several painters were total novices)

If you want Quality, you must make that clear in the tender.

***

Finally, the City must adopt a clear program of adversely scoring or banning from bids, poorly performing contractors.
Also bonuses and penalties for early completion/delays. Project delays should not be considered a norm to the point of making completion date an optional "nice to have".

AoD
 

DSC

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I took a look down into the Food Court this morning and it looked substantially complete. It looks like it could open by December 1st but it would need a deep and through cleaning first.
The major thing that is NOT yet completed is the restaurant fitting out and even if the public areas are all done - and they aren't yet - there is little point in a Food Court with no open vendors. They ARE working hard on the whole area so December 1 does seem reasonable but ....
 

Woodbridge_Heights

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The major thing that is NOT yet completed is the restaurant fitting out and even if the public areas are all done - and they aren't yet - there is little point in a Food Court with no open vendors. They ARE working hard on the whole area so December 1 does seem reasonable but ....
It makes total sense from a passenger flow point of view.
 

drum118

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Here is nothing wrong going with the lowest tender if they meet all the requirements as per tender and have a good track recorder.

Based on current Toronto tenders policies, the city fails to look at the current track record as well looking for any red flags over the past 3 years of the bidders. Even the 2nd lowest bidder can have a lot of red flags compare to the low bidder.

It can takes only one or 2 projects to to start the company to go down hill or close their doors. Some is caused by bidding too low, under estimate the cost of X item, sub contractor backing out of the project and been forced to pay more to get the work done, owner delaying payment to the contractor, paying a higher interest rate on borrow money or loan, cost of material that has increase after the tender close and can't recovery it if no provision is made for it in the contract, having too many projects on the go at the same time that can cause a cash flow-work schedule-lack of manpower and the list goes on.

Bottom line, Bondfield was in trouble at least 5 years ago and the power to be fail to deal with the issues then.

I have seen highly respected companies at all level cease to exist in a short time frame for various reasons and some had no control over the caused in the first place. Oxford is a good example of this. It went from a major developer to been own by other when the bottom fell out of the market in the 80's.

As it stands today, Bondfield bonding company is on the hock for extra cost that they will have to look at to get others to find a cheaper way or cost to complete the projects Bondfield has on the go. They are and will be paying Bondfield sub trade directly to prevent having liens file against the property or walkway and sue. I expect outside management has been brought in to oversee the projects and find ways to get the project back on track to get them completed ASP.

Bondfield is on the hock 100% for all extra cost to get the work done to the point they most likely will see next to nothing been paid to them once the work is done and all the bills are paid. Any extra funds that has been paid out in excess of the contract by the bonding company or the owner of the project, Bondfield has to paid that extra cost.

If Bondfield can stay a float after everything is completed, they will be paying a higher rate on future bonds as well being only allow to bid at X limit for a project as well for x time frame. Any project Bondfield bids on down the road will be full review to the point their bid can be rejected, even though they were low. It will take time to build up a good reputation and trust before the market has faith in them before this mess. Even sub trades will think twice before bidding on a project for them.

The damage is done, and everyone has to deal with it and waiting longer for the work is done.
 

DatTranzitGuy

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Hello, nothing's really changed. I'll get a picture from the Bay Concourse entrance on the lower level a little later.


View attachment 163823View attachment 163824


Looking West.

View attachment 163825



W/C in the Food Court.

View attachment 163826
Is the food court going to be a dead end like there will be no connection to like maple leaf square or the subway or anything? Like will the centre retail area open with the food court or is their hoarding covering where the entrance to that area will be?
 

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