(NOW WITH UPDATE)    Today (2006.09.20), I attended a “mandatory vendor’s meeting” held by the City of Toronto for the street-furniture tendering process. As you know, the city wants to hand a contract for all aspects of street furniture (garbage cans, bus shelters, and many more items) to a single company or a small number of them for a period of up to 20 years. The value of the contract is generally estimated to be in the $1 billion range. The whole thing is predicated upon advertising, and indeed that is only one component of the plans that has raised significant public objections.

I attended because I have not ruled out the possibility of working on accessibility or typography in the eventual program. This is not a sure thing in any sense and absolutely is not an endorsement of a street-furniture program that uses advertising or of the amount of advertising proposed. In fact, it isn’t anything at all apart from an expression of my interest in doing business, which may or may not come to fruition. Anyway, the rules stated that, in a joint venture (as any work I do would certainly be), at least one member of the joint venture had to attend the meeting. I figured that might as well be me. (And if you didn’t attend the meeting, you could not bid on the contract at all.) To reiterate, I may be fishing for a bit of work, which I might not get, but I am not signing on to or supporting the program otherwise.

You can read the original tender document (RFP) in an overlarge PDF. Attendees were given a CD-ROM with 57 MB of additional files (appendices).

I sat there and took notes, which I now provide. Nearly all questions were not answered at the meeting; they were taken under advisement for written answers, which will in any event be provided for all questions at the meeting and for those submitted afterward in writing. If I don’t list an answer to a question, that’s why. Spellings of nearly all names are approximate and almost surely incorrect to the point of embarrassment; this post will be updated later when the minutes come out, which will include corrected spellings.

Meeting notes; Q&A

Started 2006.09.20 11:11. 55 people in the room not including City of Toronto staff, comprising maybe eight women.

Victor Tryl from purchasing chaired the meeting. Melita Wigham, “buyer,” sat at the table and barely said anything. Kip Periclauss, project lead. Also here: Andy Koropeski, director, transportation; Elyse Parker, Clean & Beautiful City.

We’re here to review the RFP, receive questions, distribute appendices. We hope to have an addendum out [answering these questions] in two to three weeks. [Mentions a few typos in the RFP.]

  1. Q. from me [yes, I’m first!]: Accessibility has its own chapter in the RFP. What will the accessibility requirements be for ancillary services like Web sites, phone lines, and TTY lines? For example, the vendor may use those to let people report broken or vandalized street furniture. [They looked slightly perplexed at this.]

  2. Q. from Miguel Areta, Eucan [though the subsequent attendee listing shows only the names Ricardo Vera and Jaime Aguade]: The RFP says that only one piece of street furniture may have advertising per block. But it’s our experience, especially in East York, North York, and Etobicoke, that there are clusters of advertising [or street furniture that can carry advertising]. How do we guarantee the maximum ad coverage of 18,000 square feet if we are reducing the number of faces [on which advertising is mounted] and if transit shelters do not meet current right-of-way guidelines? A lot of faces would be eliminated if we considered only one face per block.

    A. from Kip: 18,000 is the current level. Certain street-furniture elements cannot have advertising, as directed by Council. A design that does meet the criteria is part of this process. We’re asking for less than that number. It’s up to the manufacturers.

  3. Q. from Bernard Parisot, JC Decaux: I need further explanation on that. P. 25 says “In no event is more than one advertising element to be located within a city block (except in the vicinity of intersections).” Can you give us an example, or draw us a sketch?

    A. from Kip: We have one advertising element per cluster, mostly at corners at present. Mid-block is what we’re talking about. Even a T-intersection is a “corner.” It’s a spacing guideline; it falls into line with transit-shelter stops, which are almost all at corners. Does that answer your question?

    Q. Maybe. Show us a sketch of the max configuration allowed.

  4. Q. from Toulla Constantinou [company unintelligible]: You might have four shelters at an intersection, all with advertising. Is that going to be acceptable?

  5. Q. from Stanley Shenkman, IMA Outdoor: P. 26 says “The elimination of competing venues will rationalize the current situation by removing duel[l]ing ad panels.” If we’ve got 198,240 square feet of total ad space and 4×6-foot ad panels per shelter, that gives us a maximum of 8,260 signs. Is that the upper limit?

  6. Q. from me: On street furniture, do the company logos of the manufacturers or vendors count as advertising? In the current case of the glass bus shelters, does the surface area showing the word “Viacom” count as advertising?

  7. Q. from Lee Day, Landscape Forms: Will we be getting a list of the attendees at this meeting?

    A. from Vic: Names only, since MFIPPA applies. Is there a general need for a list? Are there objections to having that distributed? [Silence] So we’ll distribute that as part of the addendum.

  8. Q. from Steve McGregor, [Vice-President, Leasing and Operations,] Pattison: Can you give us past or present revenue figures for the various furniture items? Like the last five years’ worth for all existing forms? Segmented, if possible.

  9. Q. from Nick Arakgi, CBS Outdoor: What are the termination dates of the existing contracts other than the transit shelters, including pilots?

  10. Q. from Donald Parizeau again: P. 29 requires the vendor to “clean and wash each element” and remove various items like graffiti, but also do that to “the immediate area.” What does that mean?

    A. That came from Council.

  11. Q. from Lars Henriksson, Norditrade: More about the 20-year term than about future products. For example, litter bins: They might be designed to feed into an underground waste-transportation system, as in Europe, like in Arnhem in Holland.

    A. If you think that’s a good way to address that, you can propose it. I don’t see where it’s restricted in any way.

  12. Q. from Sid Catalano, Pattison: [Asks question about how many copies of the final submission are needed. It’s unclear on p. 39 of the RFP]

  13. Q. from Stanley Shenkman: Can you read the second-last paragraph on p. 25 and see if it makes sense? What does it mean? [Advertising space for city use of 7% of total ad panels; also, business improvement areas get one ad face.] Is that in force every day of the year?
  14. Q. from Jorg Cieslok from Titan Worldwide: Do you mean 7% of total advertising faces for every day of the entire term?

  15. Q. from Scott Neil, Wendell Duchier: P. 33 says the City of Toronto will have “ownership/use of designs.” There are going to be proprietary details in those designs. Do you mean the overall look or every single detail? Design is an exceptionally subjective thing. Do you own all of the design or the details, some of which may be copyrighted or be proprietary? It basically says we cannot use this anywhere else.

  16. Q. from Sid from Pattison: P. 26 ¶1 says the vendor “shall identify and submit ads that may be problematic to a panel of three Commissioners for signoff prior to posting.” If there’s something that’s problematic, in our experience, it’s already up there. We may have to get signoff on everything before it goes up.

    A. from Kip: That wasn’t the intent. But if the manufacturer sees an ad that may raise concerns, that would be brought to the commissioners.

    Q. It’s usually the other way around. It’s up first. [Nearly-identical followup question from other man.]

  17. Q. from Stanley: P. 32 §3.25(d) says the vendor shall obtain “business-interruption insurance.” Are we intended to have that for the whole contract for all those years? What is it you want? Twenty years? It’s impossible. I think you should talk to an insurance consultant to get a view of what’s humanly possible. Business-interruption insurance is normally used to cover a tornado or a certain period of time.

  18. Q. from Stanley: Have you considered adding “reasonably” or “acting reasonably” to several of these requirements? You have parts where you mention acting unreasonably. [Gives several examples of categorical requirements that could be amended his suggested way.]

  19. Q. from Nick from CBS: What is the turnaround time for answers to these questions?

    A. Two to three weeks is, we hope, a maximum. We want to group them together so we aren’t putting out perpetual addenda.

  20. Q. from “Sid again”: On p. 11 §3.6, is it fair to say that the 20 benches per hear devoted to “community-related artistic and neighbourhood expression” are included in the 2,000 benches listed on p. 15 in the rollout schedule?

    A. Yes.

  21. Q. from Stanley: There’s no mention of light-pole banners, which are common in the city. Are they waived or included in the reduction of street advertising.

    A. [Panel looks perplexed at this question. They seem not to know what he’s referring to.] Do they exist as a separate entity with advertising? Where do we want other media that will contain advertising? Will advise.

  22. Q. from Stanley: I seem to recall reading somewhere in the garb— in the material…. [Question trails off amid laughter. Says the “garb—” is all the other stuff, not the RFP.]

  23. Q. from Eric Wong, Zeidler Partnership Architects: P. 42 requirements for models say that the models must not be affixed to their bases. Should one person per model be present to assemble them? Otherwise they could be damaged or misplaced in transit. And what is the intent of having each element be separated from the base? If it’s fixed permanently, there’s no need for a person to be there. Much easier for transportation.

  24. Q. from Chuck Rachlis from SAMCI: Requirements say that elements should fit on one base and be fully enclosed. Why?

    A. Yeah, to keep them confidential, like the rest of your submission. I think it says only drawings will be posted on the Web.

  25. Q. from Darcy Clark, CBS: [Question elided about typo on p. 40.]

Fun fact: I heard Spanish spoken behind me (many were the foreign accents and names at the meeting). I turned around and later learned that it was indeed Eucan sitting two rows back. They buggered off before I could say hello.


Today (2006.10.02) I received the first addendum to the street-furniture RFP. It listed errata from the RFP and provided written answers to the questions listed above. City staff completely muffed my first question, pretending I was asking about accessibility in general. City staff also cleverly password-protected the untagged PDF they sent out. I don’t feel like cracking their encryption, but I will document all the companies on the attendee list apart from me:

  1. Alpeza General Contracting Inc.
  2. Astral Media Outdoor
  3. CBS Outdoor
  4. Cemusa Inc.
  5. Classic Displays
  6. Clear Channel Outdoor Co. Canada
  7. Creative Outdoor Advertising
  8. Diamond and Schmidt Architects
  9. Eclipse Imaging
  10. Eucan Urban Equipment of Canada, Inc.
  11. Freethinking Inc.
  12. Hauser Industries
  13. Hill and Knowlton [why the hell were they there?]
  14. IMA Outdoor Inc.
  15. JC Decaux
  16. KDA
  17. King/WSI
  18. Landscape Forms
  19. Maglin Site Furniture
  20. Mountain Manufacturing & Marketing Inc.
  21. Norditrade Inc.
  22. Now
  23. Pattison Outdoor
  24. Prismaflex Inc.
  25. SAMCI
  26. Secural
  27. Strategic Technologies International Inc.
  28. Sussex Strategy
  29. Testori Group
  30. Titan Worldwide
  31. Tolar Mfg. Co. Inc.
  32. Urban Images
  33. Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers
  34. Zeidler Partnership Architects

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