City of Nanaimo lays out new purchasing policy

City of Nanaimo lays out new purchasing policy

NANAIMO – Guidelines designed to improve buying of city goods and services.

Local business would benefit better, do better and hire more if the city ranked community benefit higher when it considers purchases, says Kim Smythe, head of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.

“I know we can’t be totally protectionist but I just think the locals deserve a better crack at things,” said Smythe, who wants to see stronger language in the policy about considering what a project or business does for the community.

Politicians have approved a re-do of the city’s purchasing policy, which lays out how the city will shop, the responsibilities of employees and elected officials and consequences for flouting the framework.

It’s considered the foundation of a transformative project with consultants SGW Management Services to improve how the city buys goods and services.

The new policy is double the size of the city’s previous documents. The main differences include encouragement of group purchases and information around non-compliance and consequences, which will span a reprimand to suspension and termination of employment. City council will get a quarterly report that will include instances of non-compliance.

The policy also says no local preference will be given for purchases within the city in accordance with trade agreements, whereas previously the city encouraged preference for suppliers within the regional district where quality, service and price are equivalent.

Smythe said he would have liked to see more reference to community benefits, as well as social procurement and social benefits.

Too many external trade agreements at the provincial and national level rule against policies that even sound protectionist, according to Smythe, but he said those things can be implied if there’s more emphasis on community benefits, on social procurement, ensuring fair and ethical trade.

Victor Mema, chief financial officer for the City of Nanaimo has said local preference is a priority for the city and that it’s achieved by engaging local vendors and making sure access and opportunities are expanded. The city is working on a document for sustainable procurement, which speaks to fair trade and ethical products. .

Smythe expressed surprise the business community wasn’t consulted with during the preparation of the policy. Mema said the city will reach out to vendors, the chamber of commerce and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.