Miller Waste sues Orillia
By NATHAN TAYLOR, THE PACKET AND TIMES May 19 2010
A waste collection company has moved ahead with its lawsuit against the City of Orillia.
Legal representation for Miller Waste Systems Inc. served the city earlier in the month.
Miller is seeking $750,000 in damages, plus interest and legal costs.
The lawsuit comes after a decision by council to award a full waste collection contract to Mid Ontario Disposal.
Originally, council committee voted to award Miller with the contract for garbage and green bin/yard waste collection and Mid Ontario Disposal with a recycling contract. The decision to split the contract was later reversed by council, which opted to award the full contract to Mid Ontario. Miller’s bid for the garbage and green bin/yard waste collection was cheaper, but with the contracts combined, Mid Ontario had the lower cost.
Miller claims the city breached the terms of the bidding contract.
“As a result of Orillia’s breach of the terms of the bidding contract, Miller has suffered damages in the amount of $725,000, being the reasonable amount Miller would have earned over the seven-year term of the waste collection contract, as well as its costs of preparing and participating in the tender process,” Miller Thomson LPP states in the notice.
Coun. Joe Fecht warned early on that the threat of a lawsuit was real.
“This was definitely a consideration, and the majority of council should’ve considered it more seriously than what they thought the tender contracts read,” he said, referring to other councillors who maintained the city was well within its rights to award the contract as it did. “Four out of five of us thought there was some merit in taking our (legal) counsel’s advice.”
Council committee voted 5-4 in favour of splitting the contract. Council then voted 5-4 in favour of combining them. Later, Fecht introduced a reconsideration motion, which required the support of two-thirds of council. That motion was lost.
Coun. Michael Fogarty is “still confident” the city didn’t breach the terms.
“I did my research. I spoke to legal counsel. I’m going to stick by this decision,” he said. “I based my decision on known level of service, and I’m going to stick by that.”
Miller general manager Nigel Guilford repeated his previous statements that legal action wasn’t the company’s desired route.
“It gives us no pleasure to have to take this path, but it’s in defence of our business and in defence of the tendering process,” he said. “If the process becomes dysfunctional because council takes action that, I would argue, they shouldn’t take, everyone loses.”
Miller is not seeking to regain the contract, he said.