The city has authorized the city manager to proceed to tender on the Columbia-Washington infrastructure project.
The project hit a big hurdle last month when it was announced the city didn’t receive any of the $8.5 million it had bid for in federal grants.
“This is just the first stage for the city to go out and tender the first phase,” coun. Jill Spearn said. “I think in order for us to find the real numbers and the reality of this project we need to take it to tender. That doesn’t mean that the project will look or be, necessarily, the project that has been fully designed by ISL, but it certainly includes the restructuring of the infrastructure, which is well overdue.”
Spearn said it is also an opportunity to take advantage of the partnership with Ministry of Transportation, and with the city being in the business of infrastructure, it’s completely reasonable to move to tender.
Coun. Kathy Wallace agreed the project must still go ahead.
“I think it is a very large project for the community. It’s unfortunate that our grant applications weren’t successful, but that happens,” Wallace said. “We do have the means, as shown here to move forward with this.”
Wallace cited the timeline the ministry has to keep as well as downtown businesses that have planned for the project in 2012 as reasons council needs to move forward on the tender.
“I think we just need to move forward on it. It needs to be done,” she said.
Coun. Tim Thatcher said he agrees with the fundamental work in the project.
“I’m in favour of the infrastructure being completed, but not sure I’m in favour of completing all the rest of it, all the fluff put forward,” Thatcher said. “I’m not sure if I want to finance a lot of that out of the reserves, especially when we have a lot of other infrastructure to be completed in the near future.”
Mayor Greg Granstrom said by going out to tender they would find out what the individual portions of the project would cost.
“And in the tender we would state clearly that this can be amended,” Granstrom said, addressing Thatcher. “None of the things specific in the tender document would be guaranteed that they’d be done. We’d get detailed costs on that and then make further decisions on the ‘fluff issues’ as you say.”
Coun. Kathy Moore was also in favour of taking it out to tender.
“I am a little concerned that we don’t have any kind of firm commitment from [the Ministry] that they are actually going to do the work this year,” Moore said. “If they’re not, there is obviously no point in us going forward with it (the tender).”
Moore cited the effort to fill out the tender including staff time and time of their potential partners.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work being done in the area with the Waneta Dam expansion,” Moore said. “I’m not sure what kind of competitive pricing we’re going to get on this.”
Moore said there is no point in doing it if the Ministry is not moving forward.
Granstrom noted the Ministry previously said it would be advantageous for the city to go to tender before the end of February.
“If we’re going to have the option to do it, it has to go out by February,” he said.
Coun. Cary Fisher reiterated what coun. Thatcher said.
“While I’m 100 per cent supportive of the infrastructure, and I think a majority of Rosslanders are as well, we need to take a hard look at, I won’t call it fluff, the streetscape,” he said.
Fisher also wanted another look at the parking issues brought up by residents and business owners.
Coun. Jody Blomme was also in favour of going to tender as a means to keep the city’s options open.
Blomme was also interested in getting more info about the failed grant applications.
“In the supporting document from the Gas Tax Public Management Services, it says Ministry staff have kindly offered to discuss their technical evaluation and provide advice to those interested in having their 2011 projects considered for the 2012 funding intake,” she said.
Spearn said the city would do what it could afford and the streetscape remains a decision for council.
“What the streetscape will look like remains our decision based on the ISL presentation,” Spearn said.
“We can scale that down. Our sidewalks downtown certainly need attention, as well as the highway. I think it’s really important because we’re going to buy into the infrastructure, the highway and hopefully the sidewalks, and the rest of the streetscape remains to be seen depending on the cost and the availability of funding.”