Citizens of the City of Wetaskiwin should be able to enjoy upgrades to a popular municipal park before the end of summer after council approved a staff recommendation at a special council meeting July 11.
City council usually meets on Mondays; this special council meeting on Tuesday, July 11 was publically advertised. As Mayor Bill Elliot opened the meeting, he noted there were two items on the agenda: the Jubilee Park/Main Street Interface and an in-camera item involving a drainage ditch/culvert project (see separate story).
Two councilors were physically absent from the meet, Patricia MacQuarrie and June Boyda. Both councilors attempted to attend the meeting through technology, but this didn’t proceed as planned. The Skype (video conference technology) in council chambers didn’t operate properly, so councilor Tyler Gandam patched the two absent councilors through to the meeting on his laptop. They could hear the meeting and speak through the computer, but the video connection was bereft of sound.
One councilor, Joe Branco, left the Jubilee Park section of the meeting before council voted because he works in the local construction industry and declared a pecuniary interest.
Councilor Bert Horvey presented the Jubilee Park item to council, assisted by Director of Engineering and Development Sue Howard. The item noted, “There are two options to complete this work. The first is to tender the work out as a separate contract and the second is to do a change order to an existing contract. Each option has advantages and disadvantages that will be discussed during the Council Meeting.”
Local residents are well aware the last section of Main Street road rehab is currently underway, and are probably aware too that Jubilee Park sits exactly adjacent the section of Main Street in question. Council in essence was discussing whether to approach the current Main Street contractor about adding the Jubilee Park interface to the work, or to tender the project out to be completed separately after Main Street is done.
Howard noted that to tender the Jubilee work would probably require a delay because a new contractor would have to wait for Main Street to be finished. It could also result in up to $100,000 in additional costs. Howard stated a “change order,” where the current contractor added Jubilee Park to their contract, could avoid those issues.
Councilor Gandam said he was only concerned that if the current contractor accepted, the Main Street project could be delayed or a work quality issue arise as a result of extra work.
Mayor Bill Elliot said he was in favour of getting both projects done as quickly as possible so local citizens could enjoy Jubilee Park before summer is over.
Councilor Horvey asked if a “change order” would affect budgets. Howard said the projects would remain within budgets.
Councilor Wayne Neilson asked if the current contractor was interested in doing the Jubilee project. Howard answered, “We’re still in negotiations with the existing contractor.” She added it’s logical to go with the current contractor because they are in that exact area working right now, but if the Jubilee project had to be tendered, there are other contractors in the area who could do the work.
Both absent councilors made comments at this point, but from where this writer was sitting, the comments were not legible.
Mayor Elliot asked if this “change order” plan goes over budget, will the issue come back to council? Howard answered, “Yes.”
Councilor Branco asked if the “change order” plan would affect the Main Street project budget. Howard answered, “No.”
Councilor Horvey moved that council authorize administration to complete the Jubilee Park/Main Street Interface project by proceeding with the change order plan and that the funds required for the project come from the MSI/BMTG portion of the project budget, and councilors approved it unanimously.