Sackville Town Council and members of CUPE local 1188 have approved a new collective agreement that includes an overall eight per cent wage increase over six years.
The town’s 35 inside and outside workers will receive a one per cent increase in each of the first three years followed by two years of one-point-five per cent increases and a two per cent raise in 2021, the final year of the agreement.
In addition, some workers will receive incremental wage adjustments to bring them up to pay levels in comparable jobs.
The new agreement also provides for improved clothing and tool allowances.
In the end, the town withdrew its contentious proposal to remove seniority as a consideration when a temporary, part-time or casual employee applies for a full-time position.
After council voted to approve the agreement last night, Mayor Higham said he was pleased with it.
“It’s fair to some of those who needed to be adjusted,” Higham said, “but it’s still affordable to our citizens and they will continue to get the quality of services that they’ve been used to.”
Councillor Bill Evans, who moved the motion to approve the agreement, said it’s good news because nobody wanted a work stoppage.
“Neither party got what they wanted,” Evans said. “It was never a war, this was always negotiations, it was hardball, but we’ve got something we can all live with.”
Lorne St. construction
Also, at last night’s meeting, Council voted to approve the $5.9 million first phase of the Lorne Street reconstruction project. It awarded two contracts, both to the lowest bidders.
Bowser’s Construction Ltd. of Sackville won a contract for almost $3.4 million (HST included) to reconstruct Lorne Street from Bridge Street to Queens Road. The work will include replacing sewer, storm sewer and water pipes underneath the street as well as installing new curbs and gutters on both sides, a sidewalk and asphalt.
Town engineer Dwayne Action says the work will take 26 to 28 weeks.
Dexter Construction of Moncton won a contract for just over $1.9 million (HST included) to renew the trunk sewer that runs from Lorne Street underneath St. James Street to the sewage lift station on Charles Street. The work will also include reconstructing St. James Street and replacing local water and sewer lines as well as constructing a new drainage ditch on the southeast side of Lorne Street that will tie into the second phase of the project.
Acton says this work should take approximately 21 weeks. Both projects will run simultaneously.
Council had already approved a contract with Crandall Engineering Ltd. of Moncton to design both phases of the project and to monitor and supervise phase one. Last night councillors approved an additional $266,777 for Crandall to oversee phase two.
The town is hoping to issue tenders soon for the second phase that is still being designed. Acton says it will involve getting rid of water from Lorne Street and the storm sewers under it.
“All the water will come down to Lorne,” he says, “work its way through a new ditch system, potential retention ponds, out through [another] new ditch system, out to an aboiteau, out through the aboiteau to the Bay of Fundy.”
Acton estimates the second phase will take from July to the end of the year although some work could be done next winter. He says both phases must be completed by March 31, 2018.
The federal government will pay half the cost while the province and the town will each pay one quarter.
No more flooding on Lorne?
Acton says it’s a misconception to think that the Lorne St. construction projects will mean no more flooding given that Sackville is a tidal community.
“So when the tide is in and no water can get out,” he says, “the idea of all this is that we’re able to store as much water as we can…so that we have the capacity to deal with that water and then, once the tide goes out, we have an appropriate size aboiteau to basically get rid of the water as quickly as possible.”
He adds, however, that in an era when climate change brings heavier rains in shorter periods, there will always be a risk of flooding although engineers are designing the new system to handle all but the worst, one-in-one-hundred-year storms.
Acton says he’s been working on Sackville’s flooding problems since he became town engineer three-and-a-half years ago.
He says that while he’s glad town council has approved phase one, the real work is just beginning.
“We’ve got a whole summer to get this done,” he says. “It’s a huge project and we have no control over the weather, so we’re going to be working extremely hard to ensure that we see this project through.”