By Trevor Busch
Town council’s showpiece West Gateway capital project to reorganize the main entrance area to the community along 50th Street has been postponed until early 2016.
At their June 8 meeting, town council voted 4-1 to postpone the West Gateway project to 2016 as a result of high tender bids which exceeded the town’s budgeted figure for the project, and directed administration to re-tender the project in early 2016. Coun. Randy Sparks opposed the motion, Mayor Henk De Vlieger declared a pecuniary interest and left council chambers for the duration of the discussion and vote, and Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux was absent.
“The bottom line is we tendered this, and had two proposals come in — both are above the figure council established in the budget,” said CAO Greg Birch, prior to the vote. “So the proposal is we adjust the project scope and re-tender it.”
The project carried an estimated preliminary cost of $751,000 for the first phase of the project. Recent tender bids received for the project came in at $929,602.62 from Bos Scapes and $965,554.20 from Venture Holdings, well exceeding initial cost estimates.
In 2014, Stantec Engineering created a design for the West Gateway project which was accepted by council on Jan. 26, 2015. On behalf of the town’s planning and economic development department, Stantec Engineering issued a tender for the project, with an estimated tender cost of $751,000 excluding GST. The tender was opened on May 15 and closed on June 2.
At their Jan. 26 meeting, town council had voted 5-2 to endorse the design and cost estimates of the West Gateway Redevelopment Strategy. Sparks and Coun. Jack Brewin had opposed the motion.
While not specifically recommending moving forward with the project by transferring funds from the town’s capital reserves to make up the budget shortfall, Birch did point out there has been significant public interest in the project.
“Speaking in favour of proceeding with it, I know there are a lot of people that have been asking about the project, mostly downtown business people that are curious about this, because they see it as a benefit.”
Spanning 50th Street from the Highway 3 intersection to the 50th Avenue intersection, the proposed work includes sawcutting between existing sidewalks, curb and gutter and salvaging the existing sidewalk; and full pavement construction earthworks including site clearing.
Also, preparation, stripping and stockpiling of topsoil, cut to fill in compliance with geotechnical compaction specifications, removal and disposal of excess and unsuitable materials as instructed, and trimming to design subgrade elevations; installing catch basins, catch basin manholes and leads, and roadway sub-drains; installing traffic sign sleeves and signs; constructing an asphalt pathway; concrete work including curb, gutter, sidewalk, wheel chair ramps, median and island fill, and swales; topsoiling and sodding; painted and thermoplastic pavement markings; landscaping and irrigation and associated maintenance; placement of a narrow strip of asphalt adjacent to the new curb and gutter; asphalt milling to tie in new access; and miscellaneous and related work.
Coun. Brewin, who had voted against the project in the past, came out in opposition to moving forward and encouraged a focus on more pressing infrastructure concerns.
“Putting this off for another year, with all the other cost overuns we’ve already had, pipes and things we’ve had to fix — this would be nice to do, but I’d be more in favour of fixing what we have, instead of doing something new.”
Various phases of the proposed project will include improvement of the Highway 3 and 50th Street intersection, re-designed access to the Taber Community Centre and Aquafun Centre, proposed welcome signage, and general beautification and incorporation of improved green spaces adjacent to 50th Street.
“I’d like to see this come back and re-tendered in early January, so maybe in the spring they can get started early, so it might get done before July 1, or July 4,” said Coun. Rick Popadynetz.