The planned new multi-use centre took another step closer to reality, with Invermere council awarding the project management contract for the centre’s construction to Red Deer-based ISL Engineering and Land Services at its most recent council meeting.
Council members voted unanimously to choose ISL at their Tuesday, March 8th meeting, with councillors pointing out the company has previously worked in the valley before with good results.
“ISL has a good reputation. They’ve done local work here before and in doing that they have developed a good handle on the area,” said councillor Al Miller.
Speaking a few days after the meeting, Invermere mayor Gerry Taft told The Echo that the district had put the contract for the work out to tender and received four or five proposals in response.
“ISL was by far the lowest bidder. The others were significantly higher,” he said, adding that the bid by ISL to be project manager for the roughly 18 months the district hopes building the centre will take was about $130,000 to $145,000. “Some of the other bids were double that,” said Taft.
The tender for the actual construction work on the centre will close on March 21st (although Taft said it may be extended until March 29th) and council is hoping to make a decision on that contract just few days after the deadline, with the aim of having the construction company mobilize and start building as soon as possible.
“So hopefully that means building will start sometime this April, or worst case scenario in May,” he said. The target construction completion date is fall 2017.
“The project is starting to seem a lot more real and the timelines are a lot more immediate than they once seemed,” said Taft, adding the district first purchased the property where the new centre will be built when David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) moved away from that location some time around 1994 or 1995.
“So it’s been at least 20 years, possibly even longer,” Taft said.
ISL has branch offices throughout western Canada, including in Cranbrook.
At the meeting, council approved the Legion’s application to run the downtown farmers’ market again this year.
The district had received two proposals to run this year’s market — one from the Legion (which ran the market last year for the first time) and one from Janice Mitchell and Diana Crombie (both of whom have been vendors at farmers’ markets in the valley). Councillors pointed to the Legion’s successful track record before voting to accept the Legion’s application.
Council agreed to move the second council meeting of every month (with falls on the fourth Tuesday of each month) to a 4 p.m. start instead of the usual 7 p.m. on a trial basis.
In the discussion on the matter, Taft said the move was being made in the hopes that it might boost public attendance of council meetings.
Councillor Paul Denchuk said the switch might actually inhibit attendance.
“I’ve heard some concern that 4 p.m. meetings might be hard for some people to attend since they start before most people’s work days end,” he said.
“(The time change) won’t really take effect until May” Taft later told The Echo, pointing out that council had already re-arranged several council dates in April, so those likely won’t be changed again.
Taft did add, however, that it’s possible the new 4 p.m. start time will be applied to the second council meeting in March.
Demanding to be considered ‘downtown’
Playgreen Inc. owners Sharon and Murray Trusler sent a letter to council, which was received at the meeting, expressing dismay with what they termed the unfair treatment of the Invermere Centre (the block of businesses stretching along 8th Avenue from Peppi’s Pizzeria to the Echo/Pioneer offices).
“We feel that we, along with the other businesses located on 8th Avenue, are being treated unfairly by the District of Invermere through our collective exclusion as part of Invermere’s ‘downtown business community.’ We pay exactly the same municipal taxes as the rest of the downtown and are situated only one street removed from the main street (7th Avenue). And yet, we are not provided with the same services such as street lighting and summer flower beds. Nor are we officially recognized as part of the ‘downtown business community’,” wrote the couple.
“We are asking that we now be designated as an official part of the ‘downtown business community’ and that we receive the same benefits as the rest of the downtown, including street lighting and summer flowerbeds,” they continued. “If this is not possible, we request a reduction in our municipal taxes as we are not receiving equal services compared with the ‘downtown business community’.”
“It’s clear they are unhappy to not be considered part of the downtown and I think they have some good points,” said Taft at the meeting. “I suggest we send them a letter saying we’ll look into this, and to assure them that council views them (the Invermere Centre) as important. They (Playgreen Inc.) must be doing something right. It is a commercial space and it’s all full.”
Taft added that the location of flowers was decided Taft added that the location of flowers was decided by a group of volunteers who carried out a survey to determine the best locations in Invermere.
“It’s hard to find fault with people who are volunteering, but at the same time I can understand (Playgreen’s) points about wanting to be considered part of the downtown,” she said.
Council voted unanimously to send the letter to the Truslers.