Paving work that was supposed to be done this year as part of a five-year road renewal program in Thompson supported by federal and provincial infrastructure funding will not go ahead until next year — and it will cost significantly more than was originally anticipated.
At their Sept. 12 meeting, Thompson city council voted 5-4 to award a tender for 3.5 kilometres of paving work on Beaver Crescent, Nelson Road and other locations to Maple Leaf Construction at a cost of about $6.77 million plus taxes. That was one of two bids received for the proposal, the other being from Nelson River Construction at a price of about $9.75 million. Both companies said that because of resource levels the work could not be done until 2023.
The four councillors who opposed awarding the contract — Earl Colbourne, Les Ellsworth, Jeff Fountain and Duncan Wong — argued that it might make more financial sense to combine this work and what is planned to be tendered for next year into one contract to reduce mobilization costs.
Fountain also said that agreeing to a price 44 per cent higher than the budgeted amount of $5 million sends a signal that the city is willing to absorb nearly any price increase.
When design, engineering and resident service costs from AECOM are factored into the work, the total cost is about $7.2 million.
In order to pay the additional $2.1 million, the bulk of which is covered by federal provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program funding, the city will need to use $351,000 from its infrastructure reserve.
Ellsworth said he’d believe that the work would begin in the spring when he sees it.
“I’ve never seen them come in spring,” he said, allowing that that could have to do with when tenders are sent out and approved. “I’m doubtful they’ll be here.”
He also said that if price increases like this become the norm, the $33 million in federal and provincial funding the city is getting over five years won’t be enough to help the city repave 20 kilometres of city roads, as planned.
“The 20 kilometres we talked about doing won’t be 20 kilometres,” he said. “I believe Thompsonites would like to get at least 20 kilometres out of this money.”
Deputy mayor Brian Lundmark said it’s doubtful that the city would get a better price on a larger contract that won’t be ready to tender until December of this year, if all goes according to plan.
“It’s not going to get cheaper next year,” he said.
Mayor Colleen Smook said council should make sure this work gets done and look at the feasibility of combining other roadwork planned for 2023 with that planned for 2024.
“We’ve got the commitment from the tender for these prices right now,” she said.
This is the second year in a row in which no road paving has been done in Thompson. The year before that, it was only Thompson Drive eastbound between Quart Street and Mystery Lake Road.