Several construction projects on tap for summer

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Despite its best efforts, Spring has yet to have Sprung, but that doesn’t stop the wheels of government from turning towards construction season, along with plenty of other fixes around town that can take advantage of warmer weather.

At last Monday’s meeting of Fort Frances Town Council, several items were presented on the agenda that had to do with various projects lined up for the town to see through over the course of the summer. The largest one of these items is the awarding of a tender for the reconstruction of Mowat Avenue to Bay City Contractors, based out of Thunder Bay. Other items on the docket for this year include continuing the replacement of docks at the Sorting Gap Marina and a project to rehabilitate the Portage Avenue underpass.

On the subject of rebuilding Mowat Avenue, a report submitted to town council from Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob states the intent is to begin work this year, which will encompass the full reconstruction of the avenue as it stretches from Scott Street to Second Street. During that phase, work will be done to replace the sanitary sewer and water mains, along with the storm sewer and asphalt surface of the road. The sidewalk surfaces and accompanying landscaping will also be completed alongside the roadwork.

Rob’s report also notes that the tender for the project also includes some work to be done in various locations around town fixing “problem hydrant and valve sets,” though the report doesn’t give a list of locations of where these problem components might be located.

As reported earlier in the Times, and confirmed during the council meeting, the tender for the project was awarded to Bay City Contracting, based out of Thunder Bay, who have been in charge of several comparable projects in town over the years. The report to council states that Bay City Contracting was awarded the tender due to providing the lowest bid for the project out of the four applicants, as well as the town’s previous history having work done by the company. Rob notes the company submitted a bid with the total cost for the project coming in at $2,098,981.78, which includes a two-year contingency allowance of $150,000, as well as HST. This brings the total cost for the project well under what the town anticipated and budgeted for it.

“The low bid received does result in a substantial savings from the originally budgeted costs for this project being $2,939,887.69 funded by Federal Gas Tax ($1,143,500) and Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) ($1,304,888.10) and Northern Ontario Resource Development Stream Funding ($188,313.95),” Rob wrote. 

“It is the intent of Administration to allocate additional OCIF Funds to the reconstruction of Mowat portion of the works to allocate the savings to the replacement of valves and hydrants such that all 6 hydrants and 6 valves can be replaced in this season. In addition to this there would still be a funding surplus of 2022 OCIF funds of $1,054,828.60. Administration recommends that the OCIF funds be allocated to fund the reconstruction of Sinclair Street in the event that the Town is unsuccessful in their Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Green Stream application, otherwise the funds be placed in an OCIF reserve for use in later years.”

The town has a funding agreement that states such funds can be held in reserve for a maximum of five years.

The first phase of the project is expected to begin in next month and end in October 2022, with the final surface coarse paving and line painting of the road scheduled for 2023.

Another project being eyed for this year by town staff is the continuing replacement and upgrading of the dock structures located at the Sorting Gap Marina. That project began last year and saw the replacement of much of the dock structure with plastic components. The update to council was in regards to the 2022 portion of the project, and noted that the town had received an additional $71,443 in funding related to the replacement project from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario.

“We did bring the report through O and F at the last meeting to fund the cost overage, and I did note in that report that we were applying to FedNOR for additional funding,” Rob said to council.

“We were successful in that application and this is just a funding agreement. We have a very tight timeline to get this turned around, so we needed to bring this straight to council.”

While the town has received more money than strictly necessary, part of the additional funding received as part of this request was Rob including a plan to acquire more equipment for the docks.

“Part of when I made my application, I had the cost overrun to cover, but I also had to consider ways to improve the service there,” rob said.

“So we did apply for some additional funding for some drive-on Sea-Doo ports for better docking facilities for personal watercraft. That’s the additional costs related to this application.”

Also on that night’s agenda was a report recommending that JML Engineering be awarded the RFP for a substantial rehabilitation of the Portage Avenue underpass superstructure, which was a recommendation of a recent Ontario Structural Inspection Manual bi-annual inspection, according to another report from Rob. JML Engineering submitted a final bid of $48,400 for the project. Even with that proposed cost, Rob noted the town has budgeted a significant amount to go towards the project for other associated costs, independent of either of the two submissions they received for the RFP.

“Both firms did not include costs associated with flagging or maintenance blocking costs related to the CN Rail line on the bridge,” Rob wrote.

“However the Town did budget $150,000 for this work so there is sufficient budget to allow for those costs to be paid by the Town within their budget allocation.”

Administration did not have an expected timeline or breadth of the work to be done for that project.