Tri-City businesses can learn about city contracts at workshop in September

Coquitlam councillors Craig Hodge and Bonita Zarrillo. - PHOTOS SUBMITTED
Coquitlam councillors Craig Hodge and Bonita Zarrillo.
— image credit: PHOTOS SUBMITTED

The city of Coquitlam will host a workshop in September with the Tri-Cities’ Chamber of Commerce to talk about how local businesses can win city contracts.

David Munro, the city’s manager of economic development, said the workshop will follow the same format as the BC Assessment and taxation session hosted by the city in January.

At the event this fall, Tri-City business owners will learn about local procurement opportunities in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, and hear from successful suppliers as well as the cities’ finance teams.

Munro suggested the workshop concept during Monday’s council-in-committee meeting, when Coun. Craig Hodge asked council to revisit a notice of motion raised earlier this month by Coun. Bonita Zarrillo.

Her motion — which called for city staff to look at adding language to the procurement policy that would favour local businesses when contracts were roughly equal — failed but it stirred debated in the business community.

Hodge said Zarrillo’s motion caught “a lot of people by surprise.”

“There was a lack of understanding of what we are trying to do and what we could do,” he said during a heated debate that was punctuated with interruptions and accusations and, in the end, dissolved with Coun. Brent Asmundson calling for decorum.

Asmundson said the city has awarded $100 million in contracts to Coquitlam businesses over the last three years while Coun. Mae Reid said a so-called “buy local” clause has surfaced many times during her long tenure on council. The city’s policy to invest in “best value” works well, she argued.

For her part, Zarrillo said she’s in favour of a business workshop but still wants a “buy local” clause added in Coquitlam — similar to what’s in Port Moody, Victoria and Kitimat’s policies. She also stressed she doesn’t want her proposal to get “buried in bureaucracy.”

Meanwhile, Port Coquitlam is undertaking a review of its purchasing policy, services and operations as part of its Continuous Improvement Assess-ment process. Its aim is “to seek opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness” by looking at best practices, said communications manager Pardeep Purewal, noting a draft report will go the city’s finance and intergovernmental committee at the end of the summer.



The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce will launch its  “Think Big. Shop Local”  campaign next Tuesday. RTOWN will unveil a new loyalty app that rewards chamber members for shopping locally. Visit for more information.



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