March 3, 2017

The City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation division delivers high-quality recreation programs with the support of a registration system that is decades old, and has been modified and customized over the years to keep up with demands. The system provides key functions, including registration for more than 80,000 courses each year, issuing more than 500,000 permits for parks and facilities annually, and booking and point-of-sale services for a variety of divisions. The system has reached the end of its life.


For the first time, the City will issue a Negotiable Request for Proposals in early spring for a new registration and permitting solution and related professional services.


What is a Negotiable Request for Proposals?

The Negotiable Request for Proposals (N-RFP) is an innovative approach to procurement that ranks proponents and then allows the City to negotiate with the successful vendor on pricing and system deliverables. If negotiations fail with the first proponent, the City can move on to the next highest ranked candidate. This approach allows more flexibility for the City and the vendor to work together to build the future system.

How is an N-RFP different from other RFPs?

In a traditional RFP, the City requests binding and irrevocable proposals, including price, from proponents based on the call document.


Also, in the traditional RFP process, the City has certain obligations including the duty to:

  • disqualify any non-compliant proponent even for relatively minor oversights (for example, someone who fails to sign a submission form)
  • award to the highest scoring proponent, and
  • award the contract only as set out in the RFP document.


That kind of RFP process reduces the scope of the negotiation that can be done between the City and the highest scoring proponent. If the City fails to comply with any of these duties, such as not disqualifying a non-compliant proponent, the other proponents would be able to challenge the fairness of the procurement process in court. The traditional RFP is still a useful tool but for complex procurements, a model that is flexible can help the City get to a more innovative solution.


Is the Negotiable RFP less fair than the traditional RFP?

The Negotiable RFP process is based on a fair, open and transparent process in which the rules of the process are fully disclosed –including the evaluation criteria used to rank proposals. Like the traditional approach, proponents must understand the rules of the process and have an understanding of what the City is looking to solve. The process of ranking proponents and negotiating solutions is equally as fair as the traditional RFP process.


Will the process be overseen by a fairness monitor?

Yes, the process will still be overseen by a fairness monitor.


Why have you chosen an N-RFP for this project?

The N-RFP model has proven especially effective in procuring innovative technology solutions. We need a vendor that can help us deliver outstanding customer service, modernize our service delivery, bring us to the forefront of innovation and help us stay there for the next 10 years. The N-RFP allows both the City and the proponent to collaborate and to be able to put discuss all issues to determine what will and won’t work.


Who else has used this procurement model?

While this is the first N-RFP for the City of Toronto, this model has been used by other levels of governments and other government entities such as the University of Toronto and Infrastructure Ontario. The University of Toronto, for instance, developed an N-RFP model in 2010 that won a Leadership in Public Procurement Award after delivering millions of dollars in savings, increasing efficiency and improving compliance in the first year of introducing the model.


If this is the City’s first time using this process, did the City receive assistance on its development?

Yes, the City retained the Procurement Law Office to assist in the development of an N-RFP Template, as well as specific assistance on Parks, Forestry and Recreation’s Making Registration Better project in order to use this innovative and flexible approach to procure a new registration and permitting system.


When will the N-RFP be released?

The City has issued a notice to vendors and the full N-RFP document will be issued in early spring.


What can proponents expect?

Proponents should prepare to be flexible and willing to grow with us, to be open to collaboration with the marketplace, to be innovative, and to propose creative solutions to our current situation. Shortlisted proponents will be required to provide a system demonstration and engage in confidential technical and commercial negotiations.


A pre-bid vendor education meeting will be held once the N-RFP document is issued to provide information on the key areas of the N-RFP and to guide vendors on the process.





Media contact: Matthew Cutler, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, 416-560-8726,