Council Briefs: Canal Flats council balks at water project payments

Discontentment with the construction on Canal Flats’ Merged Area led council to vote against one of the payments owed to Dawson Construction

  • Oct. 6, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Greg Amos

Special to The Valley Echo


Discontentment with the construction contractor carrying out work on Canal Flats’ Merged Area Water Project led council to dig in and vote against one of the payments owed to Dawson Construction.

After approving payment no. 9 ($253,267 to Dawson Construction for work completed in June and July), three of five members of council voted against issuing payment no. 10 ($159,558 for work completed in August).

“The only thing done on time on this project has been the payments to the contractor,” said councillor Paul Marcil, who chairs the village’s Water System Upgrade Committee. “They should suffer a bit, too. We’re just looking at getting a schedule for completion and we’ve had a lot of resistance.”

Councillor Marie Delorme noted that due to contract language, a payment to the contractor is required within 15 days or else Canal Flats will be subject to interest rates. (Last meeting, Canal Flats council adopted a policy to counteract the risk of late fees in future contracts.)

The project, which is merging the village’s existing water system with the Eagle’s Nest neighbourhood water system, will bring Canal Flats into compliance with Interior Health drinking water requirements. The construction cost of the project is $2.29 million.

Including the engineering contract, pumping station service connection and contingency funds, the total cost is $2.7 million. The village is paying for it through $300,000 in a provincial Towns for Tomorrow grant, $100,000 from federal Gas Tax funding, and $2.3 million through a loan taken out by the village.

“Paul is putting in hard work on this, but is continually frustrated,” noted Councillor Karl Sterzer. “It’s ridiculous, we’ve got this thing that’s one and a half years over schedule, and we can’t get a completion schedule from them. That doesn’t seem right. We need serious consideration of how we can leverage that payment schedule to help us.”

Prior to the September 28th meeting, Canal Flats had paid $1.4 million for the work year to date.


Cranbrook assisting Canal Flats

Thanks to an offer from Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt, Sterzer will attend the 2015 Western Economic Development course to be held in Richmond later this month.

Pratt offered to pay the conference registration fee and arranged for a complimentary flight from Pacific Coastal Airways, which will allow Sterzer to attend the conference held from October 25th to 28th, just ahead of a major economic impact for Canal Flats — the permanent shutdown of the village’s Canfor sawmill in November.

“I want to give a big shout-out to the mayor of Cranbrook for reaching out,” said Canal Flats Mayor Ute Juras.


Pondering options for mill

After a 15-minute meeting with Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) meeting in September, Mayor Ute Juras updated council on options following the closure of the mill in November.

A working group including Canfor, the Ministry of Forests, village staff and others will look into the possibility of using the mill for producing value-added products, she said. The first working group meeting takes place on Wednesday, October 7th at 7 p.m. at the village office. It’s not a public meeting, but village council and staff are invited.

Mayor Juras’ emergency resolution, calling on the province to re-examine a part of B.C.’s Forest Act that deals with linking fibre supply to specific sawmills, was unanimously adopted by membership of UBCM.