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This article was published 17/4/2018 (1045 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mayor Brian Bowman made good on a commitment he announced at his State of the City speech in March, bringing a motion to the executive policy committee calling on city hall to give preferential treatment to local suppliers.
Bowman’s motion states the "buy local" policy would only apply to suppliers and contractors involved in goods and services contracts, including construction, valued at $100,000 or less.
The exact details will be developed by the public service in line with international and domestic trade parameters, he explained to reporters after the meeting.
"The materials management (division) and the public service will be tasked with working within those rules to do what we can to support local businesses," Bowman said, noting the $100,000 limit was set in consultation with the public service as to what the city can do without breaching trade agreements.
"I’ve been a strong advocate of open and free access to the U.S. market and we need to respect those (trade) rules," Bowman said. "I want to work within those rules to the best of our ability to support access to U.S. markets but also within those trade rules to better support local businesses right here in Winnipeg and Manitoba."
The proposal was criticized by Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, who said it will only encourage governments in other jurisdictions to adopt similar policies, which will ultimately hurt the ability of Winnipeg businesses to compete elsewhere.
"Restrictive procurement practices do not assist local growth. They encourage trade barriers being established by other jurisdictions in which Winnipeg businesses conduct their business. That hurts Winnipeg businesses large or small," Lorenc said in email circulated to councillors.
"We don’t quarrel with the objective of supporting Winnipeg’s growth and ensuring our local competitiveness, but this is not the tool to use."
The buy local proposal must be approved by council before it becomes official city policy. If approved, the administration is required to issue a report within 60 days.
Of the 21,000 suppliers to city hall, almost half are located in Manitoba, with the city spending almost $600 million in local purchases in 2016, Bowman said. He hopes to see those numbers increase with the adoption of the proposal, he said.