Canine control contractor Ken Reid may have the opportunity to stay on with the town in some capacity, but he’s not entirely sure that’s what he wants anymore.
“Do I want to continue working with the town after the way they dealt with this?” Reid said in an interview last week. “They just seem like they’ve gone absolute corporate.”
Reid, who has handled animal control for the town for 22 years, said he didn’t submit an application for the joint request for proposals for animal control services for the towns of Grimsby and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“There’s no way I could respond to (the scope of work in) the RFP,” he said.
The town is looking for comprehensive animal control that includes canines, livestock and wildlife.
Reid staying on as canine control officer “really depends on the proposals (the town receives) and if there’s gaps in any of the proposals that Ken could be a good fit for,” Lord Mayor Betty Disero said in an interview.
Reid did offer to stay on with the town if he is needed and is considering applying to work as a bylaw officer, he said.
“Basically, I just said if you don’t get a response for the RFP or if the responses aren’t satisfactory I would be available to continue covering Niagara-on-the-Lake as I have for the past 22 years.”
He also requested a pay increase if the town needs him.
At the beginning of December, the town sent him a formal letter notifying him his contract would terminate in 30 days, he said.
During a joint interview with Craig Larmour at the end of November, chief administrative officer Marnie Cluckie said the town must follow a competitive and transparent process in tendering major contracts, like the one for animal control.
That procedure could mean that Reid’s role as Niagara-on-the-Lake's canine control officer is ending, she said.
“We have an obligation to follow our purchasing policy and try to get the best value possible,” Cluckie said.
Whoever wins the bid for the town's service could end up hiring Reid to do some of the work, she said.
Reid said he never seriously considered applying for a job with the Lincoln Humane Society or the Niagara Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They are the only two organizations that applied for the RFP, according to Grimsby’s website, where details of the RFP are posted.
Bids opened on Oct. 8 and closed on Nov. 23. Reid has said he first heard about the RFP on Oct. 21.
Larmour, director of community and development services, said the town is looking for a whole and comprehensive approach to all animal issues in Niagara-on-the-Lake, from canines to livestock and wildlife.
“The current contract that we have is based on canines specifically,” Larmour said.
“We have traditionally relied on the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to augment the services that are provided under the canine control contract. So, we are intending to address the whole of the issue in a single process.”
Larmour and Cluckie were quick to say that the change in contracting terms is not a referendum on Reid’s performance as canine control officer.
“Ken’s performance is not a part of this. We’re looking for value for service,” Larmour said.
“This is not based on a reflection of performance,” Cluckie added. “We very much value the services that Ken has provided for us.”
Reid told The Lake Report he does not issue tickets and focuses on compliance through discussion and educating people.
Larmour said the town supports Reid’s approach to bylaw enforcement.
“When it comes to bylaw enforcement we would always prefer voluntary compliance over enforcement.”
He noted approval of the contract will be up to town council.
“Our responsibility is to council and providing council with the opportunity to make a decision based on our procurement policy,” he said.
Larmour said there’s a possibility Reid could continue with the town if council directed it.
Reid said he asked the town about his contract on Oct. 21, before anyone had reached out to him. He was upset with how the town handled the situation.
Larmour said the town issued formal notice to Reid in October.
Cluckie said her team dealt appropriately with Reid but also said the town is working to improve its communication with contractors.
“I personally reached out to (Reid) to express that, and now we are working to ensure that we give ample notification,” she said.
“I understand and appreciate his feeling that this notification could have come earlier.”
Larmour also said Reid was aware his contract was ending, as he signed a five-year agreement in 2016.
Cluckie said the town does not have a responsibility to Reid outside of his contract terms.
“Reid is not an employee of the town so the contract terms apply only,” Cluckie said.
But, “the human element of things is very important to us at the town,” she said.
“We want all of our vendors to feel valued, to feel appreciated and to be given ample notification.”
The change in service style was born out of discussions among the chief administrators of Niagara’s municipalities looking to pursue joint services, Cluckie said during the interview.
One of the fruits of those discussions was the extension of services with a joint hearing officer between Thorold and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The two municipalities have been using the same hearing officer to review parking infractions since 2015, Larmour said.
The town is now using the same officer as Thorold to handle any bylaw infractions covered under the administrative monetary penalty system as well. This was approved by council in June.
Neither Cluckie nor Larmour could comment on possible costs of the new animal control contract.
“We are very cautious when a procurement is underway to not to speak too much about it because we don’t want to jeopardize the integrity of the procurement,” Cluckie said.