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Arena audit aims to improve tendering of Hamilton capital projects

The city says it will implement 15 recommendations, following an audit of the tendering and reconstruction of Dundas' Grightmire Arena. Google Maps

Fifteen recommendations have been presented, following an audit of what went wrong during the renovation of Dundas’ Grightmire Arena.

A city committee has been told all recommendations will be implemented, to improve project, vendor and risk management, with a goal of avoiding similar pitfalls during future capital projects.

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Dundas Councillor Arlene Vanderbeek says the fiasco “was and is a big deal”, but she adds that it’s time to move forward for her community.

“We could hunker down and spend our time complaining about what happened, about what went wrong,” says Vanderbeek, “instead, we work the plan and we move forward to overcome the past and in future, prevent something like this from happening again.”

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The $8.4 million arena reconstruction went 20 per cent over its original budget of $7 million.

The project also missed its completion date by nine months, leaving Dundas ice users without a home for back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019.

A “lesson’s learned” audit into the matter was presented to Hamilton’s audit, finance and administration committee on Thursday.

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City auditor Charles Brown told councillors there were “red flags” early in the process, noting that the winning bid was significantly lower than the other bids, and “significantly lower than the budget, about $1.3 million lower, or 23 per cent.”

Brown’s report adds that the city’s policy is to take the lowest bid when a project is sent out to tender, “regardless of the level of risk involved or the previous performance of the contractor.”

The creation of a process through which companies competing for contracts will be evaluated, graded and monitored, is among the 15 recommendations which staff are pledging to implement.

“I feel confident,” concludes Vanderbeek, “that once the recommendations have been undertaken, future projects, my community and this city, will benefit.”

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