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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Wiarton Berford Street Bids Come In At Double The Price

South Bruce Peninsula | by Claire McCormack  

Town hopes for lower bid after contractors say they'll do the work for $17 million instead of estimated $8.5 million.

Wiarton's Big Dig project is being quoted to the Town at double the anticipated price.

The Town posted on its Facebook page that at the end of March, tenders for the work closed and the town received two bids.
Mayor Janice Jackson says what was supposed to be about an $8.5 million dollar job was getting $17 million bids from contractors.

Jackson says "One of the biggest factors was the asphalt cost come in outrageously high. There were some surprises in the big packages that we weren't quite expecting"

The Town's Facebook page explains, "Staff and the consultants immediately re-examined the Town's budget, policies, and the proposed design in an attempt to find cost savings and alternative solutions. In the end, the costs were simply too high and we had to decide whether to re-tender the contract or cancel the project altogether. "

Jackson hopes for a cheaper bid a second time around, "What we've done is we've opened up the option of eliminating the phasing of  the project."

She explains work would be done from June to November, "Instead of doing it just one block at a time, if we do the entire thing all at once, and just rip the Band-Aid off, we will no doubt see substantial savings in doing that."

"We're willing to look at every option that's open to us that will allow us to move forward with the project," says Jackson, noting a big chunk of the money for the work is grant money that comes with the stipulation the project be finished within two years.

In terms of doing work on the main street after businesses have already been battered by COVID-19 Jackson says "If we're able to do it in conjunction with COVID, our businesses can apply for some funding that the federal government is offering for businesses that have been harmed by COVID." She adds, "If we did the big dig next year or the year after, we're going to end up going through two summer where businesses are going to be harmed."

This new round of requests for proposals ends May 8th.

When asked if the Town can just reapply for Connecting Links grant money in a year or two, Jackson says "To give up a grant and then reapply for it a couple of years later would be taking a big chance. I don't know that we would get it and it would be a new council term as well. I don't know how much an appetite a new council would have for this project because it's quite substantial...probably the biggest thing the town's ever gone through. I would just hate to lose this opportunity."

Jackson says "It would just absolutely change the whole downtown core of Wiarton aesthetically. It will repair all of our century old infrastructure. It's desperately needed, there's no question."


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