The City of Revelstoke’s new street sweeper is the Johnston RT655 Regenerative Air Sweeper

The City of Revelstoke’s new street sweeper is the Johnston RT655 Regenerative Air Sweeper

Revelstoke city administrators defend street sweeper purchase

Decision not a “slam dunk” but senior staff say English-made street sweeper can handle Revelstoke conditions

A street sweeper is a truck with a vacuum unit and brushes attached. Like vacuum cleaners, some are better than others, and some are more expensive than others.

In Revelstoke, monitoring street sweeper routes and frequencies is a hobby for sidewalk superintendents. A truck sweeping a clean street generates attention, causing some to run to their computers to complain on the Stoke list.

At their Sept. 10 regular meeting, council was cruising toward a decision to buy a recommended $204,840 Falcon Freightliner M2106 with a Johnston RT 655 vacuum, to replace the current 2005 Elgin Crosswind Regenerative Air Sweeper.

However, the item was moved to a closed-door meeting at the last minute. Days later, the city issued a media release, stating they had in fact decided to go with the recommended truck, saying it was “determined to be the best value to the city.”

The process was unusual; a major capital purchase of a straightforward item wasn’t done in public view, and no straightforward explanations were offered as to why. The city’s CAO did say litigation or potential litigation affecting the City of Revelstoke was a reason for holding the meeting behind closed doors.

Not long after, a competing supplier phoned to criticize the decision. He was unwilling to go on record, but he criticized his competitor’s product. His claims must be viewed in light of his own self-interest in winning the bid, but upon checking verifiable statements, they proved true.

The Times Review believes the decision to purchase the English-made Falcon was the subject debate amongst city staff, and that the accepted bid was felt by some to be underpowered for the heavy Revelstoke street sweeping workload, which includes lots of winter road-sand removal – something that’s hard on the sweepers.

The concern is the vehicle may need to be operated more – including more passes of the same street – in order to do the same job as a more powerful (and more expensive) vehicle. (And more aggravation for sidewalk superintendents!)

There was consensus that there are currently only two of these street sweepers in use in B.C.; one at the Vancouver airport, and one in Whistler. Although they are used as general street sweepers, it’s also marketed as a niche vehicle used for airport runway sweeping.

When asked about these concerns, senior City of Revelstoke officials said they made the right decision. “I have absolutely no concern with the truck,” said city engineer Mike Thomas. “This truck is used in Whistler. It’s pretty similar conditions in terms of overall snow loads and sand loads.”

Thomas said they had no concerns about the parts supply chain, saying he had “verbal assurances” from the supplier about access to replacement parts from the English manufacturer.

He underscored the truck “met all the requirements” in the tender document, but conceded that power requirements for the sweeper were not spelled out in the bid.

In the end, all factors were weighed to arrive at the best decision. “It’s pretty hard to ignore a $20,000 difference,” Thomas said.

City CAO Tim Palmer said himself and city council were satisfied with the purchase. “There was a lot of employee engagement and analysis,” he said. “And those were listened to, considered and weighed out ultimately in the final decision.”

He added the decision wasn’t a “slam dunk.”

Palmer added: “There’s two good competitors out there.”

***

Ask your buddies which brand of pickup truck to buy, and you’ll get a variety of recommendations. A Ford, a Chevy, a Toyota, a Dodge. The kind of truck or street sweeper may not be the point here; city council and staff opted to steer a major capital purchase decision with significant lifespan operating expense considerations to a closed-door meeting.

There may be valid reasons to keep parts of the discussion in confidence, but to button up the entire conversation is a troubling trend.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: What I stand for

I recently made a mistake. Though I strive to get it right… Continue reading

Grizzly.
Morning Start: Humans might be able to hibernate like bears

Your morning start for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Salmon Arm RCMP nabbed two Calgary suspects in an allegedly stolen vehicle on Highway 1 on Nov. 22, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP use spike belts on Highway 1 to nab Calgary suspects

Arrests occur after Revelstoke RCMP clock allegedly stolen vehicle going faster than 160 km/h

Greg Rose spent several weeks working alongside Tammy VanSickle to ensure a smooth transition as he took over the business on Monday, Nov. 16. (Submitted)
The show goes on: Roxy theatre changes hands

It will remain a theatre says new manager Greg Rose

The Animal Food Bank is asking for donations as the pandemic continues and the holidays approach. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Okanagan Animal Food Bank in need of donations as pandemic continues

The Animal Food Bank provides food for any domestic pet in need

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Kelowna International Airport. ���Image: Capital News file
Two more Kelowna flights exposed to COVID-19

At least seven Kelowna flights have been exposed to COVID-19 since Oct. 21

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

A concept rendering of the proposed Costco at the corner of Baron, Leckie and Springfield roads. (WSP Global)
Contentious Kelowna Costco relocation moved to public hearing

Costco looking to move less than a kilometre away to build a larger store with more parking, gas bar

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest B.C. premier tells Okanagan girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Most Read