Local company snubbed as Ontario awards $40M ship contract to Chile
The Pelee Islander ferry in Leamington Friday, May 18, 2012. MARK RIBBLE/Postmedia Network Files
CHATHAM, Ont. -- The president of a Wheatley, Ont., ship-building company is irate his company didn't get a chance to bid on a new $40-million ferry to serve Pelee Island.
"The whole blasted process absolutely stinks," Andy Stanton of Hike Metal Products said Thursday, shortly after the Ontario ministry of transportation (MTO) announced a Chilean ship-building company, ASENAV, had been awarded the contract to build the new ferry.
The vessel will replace the 55-year-old M.V Pelee Islander, which has a capacity for 196 passengers and 10 vehicles. The new ferry will carry a maximum of 399 passengers and either 34 cars or 16 cars and four tractor-trailers.
With 51 years' experience building ships, including vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard as well as port authorities and police and fire services, Stanton said: "In our opinion, we more than qualify to be able to bid on the project whether we would have got it or not."
He added his company has built vessels "a lot more elaborate than this ferry," describing it as a "big box car with motors that carries people and cars."
There's no doubt there is a delivery cost included because the vessel will have to be sailed up to Ontario, whereas Hike Metal Products is located just kilometres away from Leamington, Ont., Stanton said.
The ship-builder is also upset that no reason has been given why his company didn't qualify to build this project.
"I'm demanding that now. For what it's worth, I'm demanding that this thing be repealed by the premier," Stanton said, adding he's e-mailed Kathleen Wynne.
"Here's $40 million of our provincial tax money not just going out of the province, but out of the country."
He said the two-year project would have generated 300-person years of employment, creating 75 direct jobs and more than 50 indirect ones.
Stanton said Hike Metal Products joined forces with a Quebec ship-building company that did pre-qualify to bid.
"We were going to do some work-share with them in building that ferry if they had got the contract," he said.
Not only did the work not come to Ontario, nobody else in Canada got the work, he said.
Postmedia Network received a response from the MTO Thursday afternoon regarding the contract going to Chile.
"Ontario follows non-discriminatory and geographically neutral procurement practices," the MTO stated in an e-mail. "Ontario is bound by trade agreements such as the Agreement on Internal Trade that may not allow favourable treatment of local proponents, regardless of subsidy that may be offered in another jurisdiction.
"Although Ontario shipyards are not favoured or advantaged with additional points at either stage of the procurement process there may be advantages within certain areas of the build for local shipyards (including delivery, local parts supply, etc.)."