Bidder eyes parking enforcement deal

At least one company is expected to respond to the second call for proposals to outsource Windsor's parking enforcement.
"I think we ... have a very good chance," said Lt.-Col. Morris Brause, CEO of the non-profit Commissionaires Windsor. "Absolutely we will be putting a bid in."

City council voted in favour of the tender in April after the original request for proposal process brought in only three applications, none of which qualified for consideration. Tender proposals will allow city council to look at potential savings of outsourcing. Interested parties can pick up information starting today.

"We're looking for the best cost-efficient outcome and the best service," Mayor Eddie Francis said.

Brause put a bid in last time but was disqualified for sealing the proposal's envelope with tape instead of a seal.

He also said he proposed his company could get the work done in 549 hours per week rather than the prescribed 560 hours, which went against the rules.

Brause said if Commissionaires gets the job there would be 15 to 20 jobs created that would go to local people, based on the original request for proposal.

"It's my understanding that they're lowering the bar," CUPE Local 543 president Jean Fox said of reopening the application.

She said the union would rather negotiate for the current 13 provincial officer positions to remain.

A staff report on the bylaw enforcement unit found a high rate of absenteeism, with 39 "unplanned absence" days per officer in 2008. But Fox said all the workers, who have all been employed since at least 1993, have job security so they could be shuffled but taxpayers wouldn't see a difference.

Brause said the old request was based on a three-year contract and hoped for savings of between $400,000 and $500,000. The new tender is for a five-year contract.

Former executive director of licensing and enforcement, Diane Bertolin, said in 2009 that parking enforcement - including staff, vehicles, uniforms and equipment -- costs $900,000 annually.

Commissionaires already works in Windsor providing security services at federal buildings, provincial courts and the airport. The national corporation has taken over parking enforcement in municipalities including Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Stratford, said Brause.

Spencer Logistics, a logistics and holding firm with headquarters in Windsor, put an application in last time.

President Greg Spencer said he'll consider putting a new application in depending on the requirements.

"We'd like to be a Windsor-based company with a Windsor-based solution," he said. The company hasn't enforced parking before but he wants the company to diversify, he said.

Fox said companies may pitch low rates for the first few years but the rates could suddenly increase.

"Most municipalities have already done that and are now reversing it," Fox said.

Coun. Ron Jones voted against the tendering process and agrees that Windsor should be careful.

"History has shown me that contracting out doesn't work," Jones said.

But Stratford councillor Dave Hunt said he's still happy he voted in favour of privatization more than four years ago.

"It's working really well and it's a lot cheaper," Hunt said. "The guys from the company don't know the people they're giving tickets to."

Windsor also sought proposals for privatizing garbage collection.

"I think it's a very, very dangerous and slippery slope," Fox said.
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