Council awards arena concession

Conflict of interest debate settled as local cafe gets contract

No matter what happens on the ice during the 2016 hockey season, one thing is for certain – there will be food in the stands.

Town council voted unanimously Monday night to award the contract for the arena concession stand to Thomasina Murdock, after rejecting the restaurateur’s bid in a 2-1 decision just last month.

Councillor Jerome Tjerkstra, who is partners with Murdock in their restaurant Thomasina’s, declared a conflict of interest and left the council chambers for the discussion.

“I’m very pleased that council has reconsidered,” said Murdock, following the vote.

Councillor Rosemary Doughty, who last month voted against the bid citing concerns over conflict of interest, made the motion this time to accept town staff’s recommendation.

Doughty said she did independent research on conflict of interest legislation, and even contacted a third-party consultant on the matter, before changing her vote.

She said she is satisfied that municipal staff “went over and above when it came to ensuring the possibility of conflict of interest is dealt with.”

A staff report, prepared by director of recreation and culture Lyle Thomas, stated: “Councillor Tjerkstra recognized the conflict of interest and declared at the June 20 meeting. All contract negotiations have been between staff and Thomasina Murdock. Councillor Tjerkstra did not participate in any decision-making discussions. All rules and regulations regarding conflict of interest have been followed.”

Murdock’s bid was the only one received by the municipality when it was advertised earlier this year.

Councillor Doug Pateman, who also voted against the bid in June, said he is supportive now that the arena concession contract includes a one-year probationary period.

Mayor Frank Armitage said he is “very happy” the contract has been awarded.

According to Murdock’s proposal, arena goers can expect changes at the concession this year. A new menu will include regular arena fare, as well as health-conscious choices like homemade soups, chili, salads and pasta.  The plan also calls for a social media component to promote the concession stand, and customers will be able to place their orders digitally from the stands.

The concession facility will be upgraded with fresh paint and physical improvements.

The staff report also addressed feedback town staff and council members received on the decision to seek a new contract for the concession.

“There have also been some comments from a few citizens that town has ‘taken over’ the concession. As a point of clarification the town has always controlled the concession operation by lease agreement with Minor Hockey. Minor Hockey’s agreement with the private contractor was at the end of its term. It was a natural opportunity to review the arrangement.”

The arena concession has long been a fundraising activity for minor sports and as part of the new agreement proceeds will be shared with arena user groups.

 

CAO Rick Zerr said full public disclosure of the contract may be released at a later date, pending a fuller review of legislation.