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Shoemaker wants to see city decertified as a Construction Employer, open bids to more competition

Councillors voted to have city staff report quarterly on any outstanding resolutions which have not yet been brought back to council as a report
20141201 Matthew Shoemaker KA
Ward 3 councillor Matthew Shoemaker seen in this file photo. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Matthew Shoemaker, city councillor for Ward 3, would like to see city staff give some consideration to the city having itself decertified as a Construction Employer under the Labour Relations Act. 

As a Construction Employer, a designation which was imposed on cities and some school boards across the province in the mid-1980s, only workers from certain unions may bid to work on city building projects. 

A report by Peter Niro, director of Human Resources for the city, said the policy not only restricts contractors that use non-union labour from the bidding process, but also some that employ unionized labour.

Recently, the Greater Essex School Board successfully challenged the designation and won decertification. 

With large projects, such as the re-cladding of the Civic Centre and the building of a new biosolids waste facility getting underway in the near future, Shoemaker asked that some consideration be taken by the city to attempt decertification.

City staff estimated the cost to the city to challenge the certification to be between $75,000 and $100,000 — with no assurance of success.

Calling the practice 'Draconian', Niro hopes a change in provincial government — whenever that may come — may result in a change in policy. 

Niro’s report to council was accepted as information, Shoemaker is expected to table a resolution at a future meeting of council to instruct city staff to further look into decertification prior to the beginning of future building projects.

Outstanding Resolutions to be Considered

Councillors voted to have city staff report quarterly on any outstanding resolutions which have not yet been brought back to council as a report. At the Apr. 10 meeting of city council, a report on the 49 outstanding council resolutions to date included ones passed as early as 2009 — two terms of council ago. The mover of tonight’s motion, Judy Hupponen, said the intention of the quarterly reports is to keep councillors informed on the progress of resolutions that have been passed. “The spreadsheet is done, it’s just a matter of updating the spreadsheet and just including them in the agendas,” said Hupponen.

Huron Central Railway Asks City for Support

A motion to support efforts by Huron Central Railway to gain funding from the provincial and federal governments for rehabilitation and maintenance of the short-line railway was passed in open council. Representatives from HCR, as well as the parent company Genesee & Wyoming Canda, Inc., made a presentation to council seeking support without asking the municipality for funding. In 2016, HCR hauled 7,400 carloads of freight for Essar Steel Algoma, representing about 54 per cent of the railway’s business. Essar Steel Algoma also penned a letter in support of the railway, saying it is of ‘vital importance’ to the operation, as well as to the local economy.

Bus Transit Review to Begin

A comprehensive review of bus transit in Sault Ste. Marie was approved by council after a bidding process by six proponents. Keswick, Ont.-based Transit Consulting Network will complete the comprehensive review at an estimated cost of $107,924. Fifty per cent of that total will be covered by federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund dollars. Open house discussions and alternate options for transfer points will be among topics discussed in the review, said Tom Vair, deputy CAO of Community Development and Enterprise Services for the city.