HURON COUNTY – Manager of Public Works Cameron Harper presented the results of tenders for HC 2021-140, the rental and operation of three snowplows with sanding and salting equipment for the Wingham Patrol, and the supply and delivery of alternative non-liquid de-icing materials.
Huron County council accepted the tender submitted by Joe Kerr Ltd. for HC 2021-140 for a minimum of three winter seasons starting in November 2022 at an estimated total value of $606,326.78 (including applicable net tax) per season, plus a two per cent increase per year beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
The public works department was authorized to exercise the option of two single-year extensions for the 2025-26 and 2026-27 winter seasons, including at a two per cent increase per calendar year.
Council awarded Compass Minerals Canada Corp. contract HC 21-54, alternative de-icing materials, for the tendered price of $320,544, including applicable net taxes.
Steve Lund, county engineer and director of operations, reported to council on the road salt supply.
Council approved an exemption to the procurement bylaw. Staff was directed to annually negotiate the price for the supply of highway coarse bulk salt with Compass Minerals Canada Corporation for three years from 2021-2024.
“As a result of a salt tender not accepted by county council in 2015 on staff recommendation, the county has been procuring highway coarse bulk salt from the Compass Minerals Salt Mine in Goderich based on negotiating annual competitive pricing and comparing to other municipalities on an annual basis to ensure Huron County is receiving good value,” stated Lund’s report.
The department uses approximately 14,600 tonnes of highway coarse bulk salt on an average winter, Lund reported.
Costs for highway coarse bulk salt over the last five years saw a wide range of variances.
The price increase on average was held essentially flat before 2016 for a few years. However, recently the price has risen significantly during 2019, which saw a mine strike in Goderich, which affected the price of salt for a couple of years. Since then, the increases have been in stride with the cost of living and inflation for the last two years. County public works surveyed in May 2021 with surrounding counties and found the salt prices delivered for the recent winter season range from a low of $67.75 in Middlesex to a high of $90.82 in Wellington.
Most of the counties tendered their salt procurement over the last three years. They found higher prices compared to Huron, except for Middlesex County. On this basis, “Huron County Public Works conclude the negotiating strategy is paying off as it minimizes any hedging for unknown labour, equipment, and material costs in years two and three of a supply tender,” Lund’s report said.
Compass Minerals has treated the county fairly over the years, Lund said, and staff suggest the county maintain this arrangement for another three years. After that, staff will monitor the price year over year. If it follows the cost of living, then Huron County is considered in a competitive pricing arrangement.
It should be noted the price paid by a county will vary based on volumes used, geographic location, trucking costs based on distance and term (length) of tender.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times