Gibbons reluctantly approves $540,000 waterline project

By Stephen Dafoe

Gibbons – During a special meeting of council Oct. 5, Gibbons newly sworn-in councillors reluctantly approved a $540,000 tender to run three blocks worth of 12-inch waterline so a new condominium project can have enough suppression flow to meet its needs.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of awarding the tender and allocating $19,000 from the Town’s contingency fund to cover a budgetary shortfall on the project. New councillor James Rollison cast the only negative vote, stating he could not vote favourably on the motion without having first seen alternatives.

But Rollison was not the only one displeased with the situation. Councillors George Fraser and Doug Horner, together with Bill Nimmo, also expressed their displeasure at being backed into a corner on the matter.

The project began during the last council term. Plans to do a road overlay in one of Gibbons’ subdivisions revealed the work was more extensive than planned, so Town Manager Henry Taylor asked council to shift priorities to upgrading a waterline running from 44 Avenue to 50 Avenue along 51 Street from 6-inch to 12-inch materials, an upgrade necessary to stabilize some of the flows within Gibbons core, but also to plan for the future growth of the town.

Although Gibbons received one tender lower than the one they ultimately accepted, the contractor failed to include a bond and was disqualified. The next lowest bid came in at $510,195 and adding an estimated six percent for engineering costs brings the project to approximately $540,000. Gibbons had allocated $522,000 from its reserves and other sources, including provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant monies, towards the project, leaving a $19,000 shortfall. The project also includes the installation of four new fire hydrants.

But once the road is torn up and the new line put down, Gibbons residents will have to drive on unpaved road until sometime in 2011. Taylor said the reasons for the decision to leave the torn up portions of the road unpaved were twofold: to keep within 2010 budget and to give the base material a chance to better compact under traffic, reducing the amount of settling.

“We realize from public works side that we’re going to have to be very diligent in maintaining and re-gravelling to keep that thing as drivable as possible,” Taylor said.

Councillor Doug Horner was not pleased with the high cost of upgrading three blocks in the town. “When word gets out that we’re paying that kind of money, we’ll have all kinds of people wanting to bid on our work,” Horner said.

But other councillors were upset at the need to replace the waterline itself. Councillor Bart Wyatt felt the illusion the town was under that the waterline was already 12-inch line left council with little choice but to pass the decision.

“Because it’s only six-inch line, which none of us knew about, our backs are against the wall,” Wyatt said, noting the town had made certain commitments to the developer of the Riverside Point project. “We told that guy that we had water for him.”

Taylor said that in looking at the town maps, an assumption had been made that the lines in question were 12-inch lines, but it wasn’t until town crews conducted routine maintenance that it was determined the lines were half the size of what they should be to provide proper water flow to the new and future developments.

Now that the tender has been accepted, Taylor anticipates it will be another two weeks before the contractor can begin the project.

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