Wednesday, April 26, 2023

City Council approves on contract for waterline work; hears of Budget plan for further wastewater work in future

The next big dig for Prince Rupert's waterlines is underway, with City Council members receiving a report from Director of Operations Richard Pucci and approving of the contract award for what will be a major water infrastructure project.

We outlined the scope of the Contract request on Monday, which will see the work take place as part of a Master Contract Agreement with Coast Tsimshian Northern Contractors Alliance, which has partnered with an International Construction company IDL projects. Mr. Pucci noting in his report that combined they have the 'full circle equipment and workforce to put towards the project.

The report also noted of the priority repairs that will take place as part of the work ahead, flagging those areas where there is high risk of railer or a high likelihood of failure of infrastructure for the first phase. 

Council members only had a few questions to ask related to the contract award, Councillor Wade Niesh making enquiries related to some of the increased cost for the work.

With Mr. Pucci outlining that materials, the use of larger pipe and distance covered for the work was part of that increase.

"So, what we've done is, we've expanded this Phase One there's two parts of this obviously.

There is the Shawatlans Road  portion, we gave them the first award to start looking at materials and purchasing materials, this is now for  the construction and installation.

We are going from where Fern Passage Submarine line connects up with this Shawatlans Road pipe all the way to the reservoir  ... this is a large diameter HDP Pipe, very expensive pipe, it will be the most expensive pipe that we likely purchase ... 

The price is what it is because of the size of pipe, type of pipe and the installation technique" -- Operations Director Richard Pucci

Coming out of that 20 millions dollars of work will come a new and improved road along Shawatlans Road, which will be at a standard width for a dual lane road upon completion. 

Councillor Cunningham had questions on what expectations the city could have of the ability of the company to take on the work required.

"This company has all of the work force and the equipment required to complete the project, so we wanted to make sure that they have the ability to scale up and scale down as required  for several work fronts.

This program when it gets into full swing will have several work fronts going so we need to make sure that this company along with other companies that we hire will have the ability to do the work"   

As well Mr. Cunningham asked as to who would provide for some oversight on the work towards local workers and equipment whoever possible.

"We don't get that granular with their equipment and their personnel, they have stats that we've provided that show all of their local work force, the number of  workers that are in the community, the Number of First Nation workers, the number of training workers and their equipment so that information has been provided"  -- Operations Director Richard Pucci

Earlier in the evening, as part of City Council's approval of the 2023 City Budget, Council members heard of one additional item to the list of projects ahead, with Chief Financial Officer Corrine Bomben noting of one new  capital request towards the sewer utility, related to the waste works that needs to be conducted.

"For efficiency while the water works are in progress it makes sense to replace the wastewater infrastructure which is of the same vintage. The city is currently working on getting grants for this, however presently it is anticipated  that the City will need to fund this work through borrowing" -- CFO Corinne Bomben

Mayor Pond would later follow up on that late addition, asking for some additional background on the process ahead towards how the cit would approach any borrowing required for  the work.

The CFO provided somewhat of a tutorial on the path ahead for council.

"Much like with a homeowner, your income basically determines how much you can  goo ahead and borrow,  so we're no different. 

We have a significant capital plan that we need to address over the next ten years  and our borrowing ability is very diminished, based on our revenues and also because of inflation at the moment and the interest rate costs.

So we are having to be very careful about what we select to borrow for, again, it's coming down as to what's mandated and what's needed for health and safety.

But there is a process, if Council goes ahead and approves this capital budget with the whole five year financial plan then staff will be coming forward with a Loan Authorization bylaw,  much like we did with the RCMP and we did with the water dam loan and the land fill loan.

Council can go ahead  direct whether we are going to go through the Alternative Approval process or if we go to a referendum and then the public will have a say on whether or not they are OK with us borrowing the funds that we need in order to conduct the work, and that generally takes six months   -- CFO Corinne Bomben

You can review those themes from the City's Video archive of the Monday session,  Ms. Bomben's late addition to the Budget list is introduced at the 32 minute mark of her presentation.

Mr. Pucci's overview of the water project about to get underway can be found at the 2 hour 20 minute mark.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be explored through our archive here.

A look at the scope of the City's infrastructure challenges can be reviewed here.

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