For two months, they’ve been behind closed doors, but indications are that the City of Penticton is ready to take the South Okanagan Events Centre contract discussion back into the light of day.
A special council meeting has been called for July 8, with the SOEC management contract as the sole item on the public agenda. The special meeting coincides with the deadline for acting mayor Garry Litke to resign in order to run for mayor in the Sept. 7 byelection. Litke said a major decision like awarding the SOEC contract would be best dealt with before council is reduced to five members, just one above quorum, the minimum needed to vote on any issue.
Since the request for proposals closed at the end of April, the sifting of the proposals has been conducted behind closed doors by the SOEC Select Committee.
“We are down to the fine strokes,” said Litke. “The RFPs have all been evaluated. The committee has made a recommendation to council.”
That recommendation was made at a closed council meeting, since it involved proprietary information from the companies making the bid. Litke said details about the bids couldn’t be released for the same reason; the bidding companies operate similar facilities all over North America.
“They don’t want one facility to know what kind of deal the other facility is getting,” said Litke.
Mark Ziebarth, one of the committee members, described the selection process as detailed and rigorous, dealing with 250 to 300 page submissions from the bidders.
“It was really good to see that the city was prepared to handle this process in a very professional way,” said Ziebarth. The SOEC committee consists of two council members, four city staff and four private sector representatives.
“Six years ago, when the city first signed the contract with Global, there was nothing like this. This time, we were ready,” said Ziebarth.
The proposals cover operations at the main 5,000 seat arena and the community rink as well as Memorial Arena and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, which altogether had an operating budget of $4.2 million last year. Global Spectrum has operated the SOEC since it opened in 2008, under an initial five-year contract. The March 7 RFP issued by the city indicated that depending on value to the city, a 10-year contract would be considered.