Work to rehabilitate the Okanagan Lake waterfront is going to be on a tight schedule, with the first phase planned to be completed by June 15.
The project is expected to go out to tender in March, and the contract to be awarded in early April, with construction of the first phase to begin immediately. That phase is to be finished by June 15, and work will come to a halt through the busy summer tourist season. Work on the second phase is scheduled to start Sept. 3
Rod King, chair of the waterfront select committee, said they have been on a tight timetable all along.
“It’s been a really interesting exercise,” said King, who was concerned originally that it wouldn’t be possible to develop a waterfront plan in the time allotted. “I think it was a good idea to give us a tight timeline. It got us excited and on board.”
King wore the same Hawaiian shirt to present the detailed plan to council this week as he did in May when he first introduced the work of the committee.
“I am trying to reinforce that we are getting the ball rolling again,” said King, who said that the public consultation process was intense and long, that a lot of good thinking went into the plan by the public.
In fall of last year, council approved that out of four options presented, that planning continue on a concept that was expected to cost $1.85 million, funded by $1.2 million in a gas tax grant and $650,000 investment
According to Mitch Moroziuk, the city’s director of operations, that price tag has already increased. He listed a variety of extra costs, including $22,500 for using coloured concrete in an S-shaped pattern along sections of the walkway, $36,000 for illuminated bollards at high-traffic pedestrian crossing areas and other additions coming to a total of about $275,000.
Moroziuk said the city will also be removing more trees than expected; they will now be removing 28 trees rather than 23, though they will still be replacing them at a two-to-one ratio, meaning 56 new trees.
Though Moroziuk said that the increased costs for the plan would be covered by a combination of reallocation of 2013 capital works projects and 2012 carry forwards, several councillors expressed concern about the increase in costs at this early stage.
Coun. Garry Litke wondered if there would be an opportunity for council to create an oversight committee, as was done with the pool construction project, to keep an eye on costs as well as the schedule.
“This is first blush and I start getting nervous when the first time you look at a project there is a budget overrun. And the next time we look at it, there will be another budget overrun,” Litke said, adding that he wanted to make sure that the project came in not only on budget but on time, and that the first phase would be done in the allotted time.
“That is a critical date in the economic and tourist life of our community. On June 15, we can’t have construction going on our waterfront any longer,” Litke said, adding that even a few days delay might be devastating to an event like the Peach City Beach Cruise.
Coun. John Vassilaki expects the cost of the renovations to increase, although he said that wasn’t the reason he was planning to vote against the plan.
“I am dead against this project, not because it isn’t worthwhile, but because it doesn’t go far enough,” said Vassilaki, who had argued for a more significant investment in the waterfront when plans had come before council previously.
He was concerned that an oversight committee, in trying to balance cost overruns, would cut from other areas of the project.
“The pool was kept on budget because we kept cutting and cutting so we could stay at the budget,” said Vassilaki.
Mayor Dan Ashton denied that had been the case, saying the city had “added and added,” as did Litke, who was on the pool oversight committee.
However, in an earlier comment Litke had said one of the functions of the committee was to find ways to balance increasing costs.
“Every time there was a budget overrun on one part of the budget, we found another place somewhere else in that budget to make sure the project stayed on budget,” said Litke.