Town cuts features from parkway project

Although going $172,685.77 over budget by doing so, town council agreed Monday night to go ahead with a scaled-down version of the La Verendrye Parkway renovation project rather than pay the extra $1.3 million to stick with the original plan.
Operations and Facilities manager Pat Hickerson told council that downsizing the project by $801,511 would mean sacrificing the La Verendrye landing at the end of Victoria Avenue, as well as some of the docks at the Sorting Gap Marina and the docks at the end of Butler and Crowe Avenues.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon noted nothing else could be cut from the project without it losing its “feeling of totality.”
“The integrity of it is still there,” said CAO Bill Naturkach.
Mayor Witherspoon encouraged council to support the modified contract “so we can get on with it”—regardless of the extra $172,685.77 price tag.
“We were going to debenture our share anyway. We’ll borrow from ourselves,” he reasoned.
Hickerson also noted the project would yield a $90,000 GST rebate.
Naturkach said that, at this point, the scaled-down plan should not go back to tender since the project already is slightly behind schedule.
But some concerns were voiced.
“If we don’t agree with this, is it on the shelf? Is that what I’m hearing?” asked Coun. Roy Avis.
“Not directly. But I think we’d just be nickel-and-diming ourselves,” replied Mayor Witherspoon.
“Every time we get a consultant and get an estimate, we put it out to tender and it comes back to us higher than what we were told,” remarked Coun. Deane Cunningham.
“It’s really disheartening.”
“I’m not against the parkway, I’m against the cost of doing it, the process we had to go through to get here,” echoed Coun. Avis, noting that consultant Engineering Northwest advised the town to pay contractor George Armstrong Co. Ltd. a percentage of the deletions to compensate for the reduction in their expected profits.
Coun. Dave Bourgeault and Coun. Avis also agreed the town must ensure that money is budgeted every year for the upkeep of the parkway project.
Council ultimately voted 6-1 in favour of the modified plan, with Coun. Avis the only one opposed.
The parkway, which hopefully will be completed by the fall, will include extended walking and biking paths, lighting, seating areas, and trees, among other features from the Sorting Gap Marina to La Verendrye hospital.