Hartland liquor store dispute brought to court

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A company that conducted a traffic survey in Hartland for NB Liquor that was a key player in awarding a franchise store in the community warned that a midwinter car tally in the city summer tourism could skew the results, according to court documents.

“The traffic volumes seen in January are generally lower than in other months of the year, especially compared to the summer months,” wrote Brendan McPhee of CBCL Ltd., the engineering consulting firm that carried out traffic counts at Hartland.

“This would be all the more true as Hartland is home to the longest covered bridge in the world, which is a well-known tourist attraction.”

A dispute over the allocation of the NB Liquor outlet to Hartland is taken to court next month, with dueling traffic counts likely the central issue.

In April, NB Liquor moved its lucrative agency franchise from a traditional location near the famous Hartland Covered Bridge to the local Hartland Irving station and Valu Foods store, about a mile up the river.

The move sparked opposition in the city and accusations from Peter Cook, the owner of the lost outlet Freshmart grocery store, of political maneuvering and corporate cronyism.

Cook, a prominent Liberal from Carleton County, owned the franchise, but lost a competition to keep it after NB Liquor put the contract to an open tender.

Peter Cook (holding scissors) is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2016. Cook is suing the NB Liquor Corporation for how it handled its request to retain the liquor outlet of its downtown grocery store city ​​of Hartland. (Facebook)

The cook disputes the number of auctions

A 100-point scorecard used by NB Liquor to score two submissions it received appears to show that Cook was easily beaten, from 96.1 to 88.25.

Cook disputes who matters and believes NB Liquor’s politically appointed board of directors, led by prominent Progressive Conservative and former Irving Oil employee John Correia, played a role in the result.

“It was either manipulated on purpose, which I believe, or at the very least, it was sheer incompetence,” Cook said this week.

“I was deceived.”

NB Liquor declined to comment publicly on the dispute, but in an affidavit filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench, Vice President Alan Sullivan said Correia had no involvement in the assessment process and that its past associations are irrelevant for Cook to lose the offer.

“Mr. Correia’s past or current roles with ANBL or other companies had no effect on whether the applicant scored lower than Valu Foods in the RFP process.” , stated the Sullivan affidavit.

John Correia was named president of NB Liquor by the Higgs government and was an early supporter of the Higgs leadership bid. NB Liquor denies that it had any influence on the decision to relocate the Hartland outlet. (Tire of the coast)

Most controversial issue of traffic count

A number of issues are disputed by Cook in NB Liquor scoring for both offers, but a traffic tally that was worth 30 points in the competition – more than anything else – emerged as the most controversial.

The NB Liquor Traffic Study was conducted over 48 hours on a Tuesday and Wednesday during the second week of January of this year, and showed that vehicles passing Irving Station were within 95% of the way. number walking past the Cook store.

Cook’s disputes matter because his store is accessible by multiple streets in front of and behind his building, and because traffic was only measured on one street.

Although NB Liquor’s RFP states that the traffic count score will be “based on the traffic of vehicles passing the promoter’s place of business,” correspondence filed in court shows that the consultant believed that the job was to measure only the traffic going on Main Street.

“We understand that the primary goal is to get a comparison of daily traffic volumes on Main Street,” wrote Mark MacDonald, CBCL Senior Transportation Engineer.

Cook said beyond this problem summer traffic in downtown Hartland is much higher than in winter and selecting two midweek days in January to do a survey has guaranteed a result. wrong.

To make the point, Cook hired Roy Consultants of Moncton, a frequent engineering contractor with the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, to conduct a second five-day traffic survey in mid-August.

Hartland’s Irving station and Valufoods outlet on the outskirts of town were declared winners of the NB Liquor franchise store contract on March 17. They took over on April 1. (Google Street View)

Second study carried out in mid-August

This study, written by civil engineer Jérémie Aubé, counted 29% more vehicles passing Cook’s location on Main Street than Irving’s location, using meters in places similar to those in NB Alcohol.

But the difference rose to 111% more as they passed by Cook’s store by adding a number of cars taking a second route.

In his report, Aubé conceded that traffic counting is not a perfect science.

“The data area is not perfectly sealed and vehicles can enter and exit the system freely without being captured by traffic counting devices,” he wrote.

Cook softened a claim made in an early affidavit that the street in front of his store was blocked for some time by roadworks while NB Liquor’s traffic count was underway.

He now concedes that he was wrong on the dates of the traffic count.

On its scorecard, NB Liquor ranked the traffic count from 30 to 28.6 in favor of Cook because of the slight difference in its numbers.

Cook estimates that his study shows that the traffic score should have been at worst 30 to 15 in his favor, more than enough to deserve his overall offer, his offer got 9 points lower on the rest of the items.

“I think we have a chance, and a good chance, that a judge can overrule it,” he said.

Both parties are scheduled to appear in court in Fredericton on November 9.


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