Sackville Town Councillor Bill Evans says he’s “gobsmacked” by the news that the second phase of the town’s Lorne Street flood control project could cost nearly $6 million, twice as much as the $2.9 million in federal, provincial and municipal money set aside for it.
“The elephant in the room is finding out that something we thought — our consultants said — would be three million is six million,” Evans said during town council’s meeting on Tuesday.
He was commenting on a report from Town Engineer Dwayne Acton that the lowest bid on Phase II of the $2.9 million Lorne Street project came in at just over $5.9 million even after the town had made substantial reductions to its original plans.
Acton responded to Evans by saying that consultants Crandall Engineering of Moncton are reassessing the project to see if there are other options for draining flood waters from the Lorne Street area to the Tantramar River. He also defended Crandall’s original estimates of the project’s costs.
“It’s a huge unknown when you start digging in marsh,” Action said. “It was a very difficult project to gauge.”
Less ambitious plans
The town’s plans called for construction of two large retention ponds connected by deep drainage ditches that would discharge flood waters through a double-gated aboiteau into the Tantramar River at low tide. But last month, Acton said the town had eliminated the second, larger retention pond to stay within the $2.9 million budget.
To read about elimination of the second pond, click here.
To read about the town’s original plans for three ponds, click here.
Andrew Black was the only other councillor to comment on the doubling of costs for the Lorne Street project.
“Not to be too mean, but I would question the ability of the consultants to predict this, I mean it seems huge,” he said.
Black also wondered if Crandall Engineering would be paid additional fees “to re-do what they’ve already done.”
Acton answered that after a brief discussion, the consultants are re-looking at things. Chief Administrative Officer Phil Handrahan added that the project is complex.
“We need to allow the consultants the time to work with staff to see what options can exist,” Handrahan said, “and as soon as we have a better idea, we’ll bring something back and hopefully have some answers at that time. To try and answer questions here tonight, is really just speculating unfairly.”
The following exchange occurred when Black persisted:
Councillor Black: “I would hope that the consultants would come back with many options. I mean is it possible that this Phase II just doesn’t happen? Is Phase I enough? Anyway, it would be nice to see many options potentially just to give some sense of where we’re at, where we’re going to go.”
CAO Handrahan: “There will be as many options as is reasonable and feasible to bring back to council and, at the end of the day, council will be the ones to determine whether or not something goes ahead or doesn’t go ahead and at what cost.”
To read earlier coverage of Phases I and II of the Lorne Street project, click here.
Aside from eliminating the second water retention pond from its tender for Phase II, the town also eliminated construction of the large ditch and control structure that would funnel water from the first retention pond south of St. James Street under Charles Street on its way to culverts under the CN Rail tracks. According to town Treasurer Michael Beal, the $200,000 still left over from Phase I of the Lorne Street project could be applied to the Charles Street crossing.