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News Brief

Caférama tenant report ranks bidders

[correction appended]

In a confidential report released to SSMU councillors Friday, the SSMU Operations Committee ranked the seven tenders bidding for the Caférama space according to their projected performance, and some are worried that corporate food services will be at the top.

The report will be presented to Council this Thursday for approval and a condensed version will be released to the public today.

Although the 33-page report is confidential, Barake warned that a student-run initiative would not be financially viable for SSMU, because it would overextend their budget.

“If Council mandates me to start a third student operation, it will have severe implications on SSMU’s other budgets,” he said. “Cuts will not only be made to Clubs & Services and non-student-fee funded services, but to our Governance budget.”

Barake estimated that student-run initiatives vying for the space would incur a $150,000 loss in each of the first four years of operation and would need to see $1-million in sales over five years to break even. Due to the confidentiality of the tender process, Barake was restrained from releasing data on how he came to that conclusion.

This year, Gerts and Haven Books – SSMU’s current student-run operations – will lose approximately $100,000 combined.

A decision that favours a commercial bidder will ignore multiple mandates from both students and Council to prioritize space for student-run initiatives.

The Operations Committee followed a Council-approved tender process and consulted other SSMU bodies and people – including the Environment Committee, the Financial Ethics Research Committee, and the Business Operations Manager – in an effort to balance all the relevant mandates.

“It’s not an issue of prioritizing mandates over each other, it’s finding a solution that satisfies all mandates,” he explained.

The Operations Committee projected bidder performance from numerous angles, based on their top priorities for the space: social responsibility, environmental considerations, and long-term financial viability.

– Ali Withers

The Daily originally reported that Imad Barake said a student-run initiative would incur a $1-million loss in the first five years. In fact, he said such an initiative would need to generate $1-million in sales over five years to break even, and that it would lose $150,000 a year for its first four years. Barake also refused to release more information because Council mandated the tender process to be confidential. The Daily also misidentified Business Operations Manager as a Business Operations Committee, which does not exist. The Daily regrets the errors.