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Construction of new wastewater treatment plant delayed as Erin struggles to find builder

Town has reopened the tender process as the three bidders previously pre-qualified declined to make bids on the project
Rendering of the wastewater treatment plant planned for Erin.

ERIN – The Town of Erin won’t break ground on its new $126-million wastewater treatment plant this fall as planned.

The town’s director of infrastructure services, Nick Colucci says construction on the project is now expected to start in early 2022 — but first the town has to find someone to build it. 

In August, all three of the contractors Erin had pre-qualified to submit bids to construct the plant failed to do so before the closing deadline. On Monday, the municipality issued a new request for pre-qualification. 

Colucci said the document is largely the same as last time with a few small changes, the main one being the number of pre-qualified companies won’t be limited to three like last time. The new pre-qualification period closes on Nov. 15. 

After that, council will pick a shortlist of contractors who will be invited to tender, Colucci said. Those companies have until sometime early next year to submit their bids. 

“I’m confident that we’ll get bids, I think that we will clear up all the issues that have occurred in the past and that the contractors had concerns about,” Colucci said. “I think this is a good plan going forward and we’re very confident that it’s going to proceed.”

GuelphToday submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Town of Erin seeking a copy of correspondence from the Ontario General Contractors Association detailing why none of their members bid on the project.

On Monday, town clerk Lisa Campion said Erin will not grant access to those records until after the construction tender has been awarded on the grounds that if disclosed now, the correspondence could “prejudice the economic interests” of bidders as well as the town. 

“Premature disclosure would affect the three pre-qualified bidders as potential (new) bidders would be aware of issues that they may be able to use to their advantage during the new bidding process — this would have a direct impact on the competitive position of the three pre-qualified bidders … it would also prejudice the economic interests of the town as disclosure may impact the number of bids the town receives,” Champion’s email read in part. 

Colucci similarly said he couldn’t give specific reasons no bids were received, but said there were some concerns about the wording of the project's schedule. 

“That’s with our legal team now, updating the wording in the contract,” Colucci said. 

If the town breaks ground on the wastewater treatment plant in early 2022 as is now planned, Colucci said that means the facility would open in early 2024.