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Demolition of Spaniard’s Bay’s old town hall stirs up commotion

The old location of the town hall is now a small patch of dirt, to later be turned into an extension of the Spaniard’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department’s parking lot.
The old location of the town hall is now a small patch of dirt, to later be turned into an extension of the Spaniard’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department’s parking lot. - Chris Lewis

Lowest bidder says situation became a larger misunderstanding

SPANIARD’S BAY, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

The demolition of Spaniard’s Bay’s old town hall has stirred up a bit of controversy among some residents.

On July 16, during a regular meeting of the town council in Spaniard’s Bay, council members had a look through the three bids they received after putting out a tender for the demolition of the old town hall, located next door to the community’s fire department building.

This is something council had in the works for quite some time, with the tender going unanswered for some months before council received the three bids looked at that night.

The bids in question varied significantly, with the highest bid coming in at $17,135. The second highest was $13,225, while the lowest, which was offered by Donald H Smith Backhoe and General Trucking Company, was for $6,267.50. This is ultimately the bid that council went with Monday night, with town manager Tony Ryan noting that all bids seemed to do what council needed – demolition of the building and disposal of the leftover material.

On top of those things, the concrete foundation was removed and the area was cleaned up in order to provide the Spaniard’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department with more parking space.

The demolition went ahead as planned in the following weeks, however, some residents of the community found themselves concerned with how the materials were disposed of, with some stating that they had seen some materials being left on Bishop’s Cove shore, along the ocean.

However, according to Jeff Smith of Donald H Smith Backhoe and General Trucking Company, this was not quite the case. He said the ordeal was something of a misunderstanding.

“Back in the day, people would take clean materials – like the lumber – and bury it in the ground, so that’s what I did,” said Smith, whose property is located only some 500-feet away from the Bishop’s Cove shore. “I buried just clean lumber, not any shingles or anything like that, because that’s what people used to do years ago, and I never thought anything of it after that.

“Apparently, you can’t do that anymore, but no one ever notified me that that changed.”

Smith’s low offer of just over $6,000 was also something he said people didn’t quite understand. During Monday night’s council meeting, the price discrepancy did come into question, though no further investigation took place before council accepted the bid. Smith says had council called to inquire about the price, a lot of the confusion could possibly have been avoided.

“First of all, I put in such a low bid because my wife is on the fire department – I bid just enough to cover my own costs and that was it. I thought it would be something nice to do for the department, because now they’ve got plenty of space for a parking lot, which they never had before,” he said. “I thought of it as something of a donation, because I wasn’t gaining any money from it.”

Smith’s bid also lacked something that the other two offers included – transportation of the materials to the Robin Hood Bay garbage disposal facility in St. John’s. This is something that, had Smith included in the original bid, would have likely bumped up the price a fair bit.

Now, after discovering that burying the lumber was no longer an option, Smith told The Compass that he had been working directly with the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment to get the materials out to Robin Hood Bay.

“At the end of the day, this was a big misunderstanding, I think,” said Smith of the situation as a whole. “I didn’t know you couldn’t (bury the lumber) anymore, and now I do.

“I’ll be losing out on money this time around, because getting it out to Robin Hood Bay wasn’t in my bid, but that’s all you can do. I’ll know now for next time.”

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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