The above, in a nutshell, is my down-home philosophy when it comes to deciding on whether to support initiatives designed to change the way the City does business. In other words, if there's no evidence that the current way the City is going about its business is failing, then there's no good reason to enact a new policy or program to change.
|Coquitlam business. (from coquitlam.ca)
Nowhere in the lengthy preamble to her motion and, moreover, nowhere in her lengthy prepared speech supporting her motion did Ms. Zarrillo present any evidence to suggest that local businesses did not support the City's current procurement policy--a policy that seeks to find the best value for the City of Coquitlam through open and competitive bid opportunities.
As our manager of financial services, Sheena MacLeod, said last night, it is proven that such competition leads to lower prices.
Moreover, as I pointed out in my speech on the matter, enacting some sort of buy-local campaign could actually end up hurting local businesses. This would occur because such an initiative would spark a mini trade war, one that would see other local municipalities enacting buy-local initiatives as well, thus limiting business opportunities for Coquitlam companies.
It's also clear to me that a "buy-Coquitlam" policy would add red tape to the City's procurement policy, placing onerous, time-consuming and expensive burdens on staff time. Ironically, the only jobs a "buy-Coquitlam" policy might, then, create would be within City Hall's administrative staff.
During her speech, Councillor Zarrillo expanded on her initial motion by suggesting that it implied that a "buy-local" policy would only kick in "when all things were equal." Well, if she meant that, she should have said so in the first place.
But, even if she had, I pointed out that "all things being equal" was either an extremely subjective criterion or, if it applied merely to the exact figure in a bid, likely to occur very rarely indeed. This being the case, it was hardly a compelling reason to support the motion.
The bottom line is that the current "best value" policy ensures that the City gets the best bang for the taxpayers' buck, while also creating a market in which good local suppliers can succeed both near to and far from home.
Here's a link to the Tri-City News' story about the debate. And here's a link to the Tri-Cities Now's story.