Algonquin College says it granted what it describes as “single source” contracts to architects Cuhaci/Diamond Schmitt and contractor PCL Construction to build the $44.9 million Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Centre and Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship (IELCIIE) because of extremely short timelines in funding approvals, and successful relationships with the designers and builder on earlier projects.
The project, made possible after the federal government agreed to contribute $21.9 million through the Federal Post-Secondary Institution Strategic Investment Fund, should be completed within the next two years. The college is contributing $20.1 million of its own resources, while the provincial government is adding $2.9 million.
“It was a matter of urgency of timing that led to our need to single-source to meet the occupancy deadline attached to the funding,” said Todd Schonewille, Algonquin’s director, physical resources, after the official announcement in October. “Our previous selection of these firms through a public process gives us confidence of them being able to meet our needs while being able to provide their respective services at a competitive value.”
Schonewille said the selected firms were either on the college’s Vendor of Record list or prequalified through previous publicly procured projects at the college, and college administrators invited the two organizations to submit proposals in the summer, without them having knowledge of the budget. The resulting proposals were in line with expectations and costs for similar work elsewhere, he said.
He said the college was impressed with Cuhaci/Diamond Schmitt’s work on the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE) building, constructed by EllisDon. Conversely, PCL built the Student Commons building, designed by IBI Group.
The college says the project will allow it to expand its Applied Research and Innovation Program, providing assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises in Ottawa. There will be improved resources and space to offer students new certifications in sectors including cyber security.
The IELCIIE will be the first of its kind in Ontario, providing indigenous students and alumni with access to resources and mentorship to start or grow their own businesses. Its funding application said 1,000 Aboriginal students attend the college each year, with almost 50 Aboriginal students registered in its School of Business this past academic year.
“We prefer to use the term ‘single source’ instead (of) sole source’,” Schonewille wrote in a note to OCN. “Sole sourcing is typically referred to when a selected vendor is THE ONLY (his emphasis) vendor that could provide a particular service or product. Single source is typically used when a specific vendor is selected to provide a service that could also be provided by others.”