Mayor says public is oblivious to multi-million dollar project

Council agreed Tuesday to spend more than $2 million on a project that the mayor says the public is “completely oblivious” to

Council agreed Tuesday to spend more than $2 million on a project that the mayor says the public is “completely oblivious” to.

The $2.6 million will go to Upland Contracting to install a steel pipe for a new city-wide drinking water system.

While the work is coming in roughly $500,000 under budget, Mayor Walter Jakeway said council should hold off on approving large expenditures until after the Nov. 15 civic election.

“I think we should postpone this action of approving this contract until after the next election to allow the next council, which is having to pay for it, the opportunity to have a say,” Jakeway said. “The work doesn’t have to start until March 2015, so a delay of five weeks shouldn’t make too much of a difference.”

But the rest of council disagreed and approved awarding the contract to Upland.

Upland is expected to begin work no later than March 15, 2015 so that the project team can complete the work before next winter – and poor weather – comes.

The city intends to have a new drinking water intake system in place before the John Hart Generating Station replacement project disconnects the city’s existing water supply in 2017.

The city has come up with a replacement system that will involve a new intake and pump chamber at the John Hart Lake which will connect to a new large diameter, transmission pipe connecting the city’s Elk Falls Water Quality Centre to the water system source.

But Jakeway said Tuesday night that the public is in the dark about what’s happening.

“I don’t think the public knows what’s going on,” Jakeway said.

“We’re going into a large project and they’re completely oblivious to what’s happening and I think we need to have some ads in the paper, or a meeting, something so the public can see what’s happening. I think we should postpone it until December or even into January.”

The project is scheduled to be done in two phases, with delivery and installation of the new transmission pipe completed first, followed by the intake, pump chamber and connection to the Water Quality Centre in the second phase.

Council has budgeted $16.7 million for the entire water intake project, with the cost spread out over three years. BC Hydro has committed to pay 75 per cent of the costs, up to a maximum of $12.5 million, with the city making up the remainder through its water utility fund.

Coun. Andy Adams said in June that council will look for funding opportunities from both the provincial and federal governments to minimize the capital cost to taxpayers.

Adams said at the time that the good news is that “Campbell River will be getting a brand new, state-of-the-art water supply system for a maximum of 25 cents on the dollar that will last for another 50 years.”

Work on the new system is expected to be complete in 2016.