As the old adage goes, when it rains, it pours — and if that’s the case, you better have somewhere for the excess water to go.
Residents in the east part of Pincher Creek along Church Avenue, Willow Street and Poplar Avenue know first-hand the pooling and flooding that can happen when storm sewers aren’t up to the task. The section of town has drawn consistent complaints during rain events as a result of deteriorating pipes and intruding roots in the drainage system.
As part of the 2021 capital budget, $500,000 was set aside to begin replacing the old storm sewer. Starting at the north end of Church Avenue by the creek and heading south, the overall project was divided into four schedules to give the town some options when considering contractor bids.
Six companies ended up bidding on the project, with council deciding during its April 12 meeting to award the project to Jenex Contracting, which bid $377,042.20 (excluding GST and contingencies).
Since the bid came under budget, administration asked council to consider completing more of the construction schedule this year.
“We knew going into this project that the total scope that we were hoping to complete wouldn’t be possible within the $500,000 budget,” said Alexa Levair, the town’s capital project and asset co-ordinator.
“We set up the bid in a way that we could wait and see what the numbers came back as from the contractors, and then after they had bid determine how much of the project we would complete.”
The first section would see the drainage replaced down Church Avenue to Willow Street and Poplar Avenue. The remaining three sections, divvying up Poplar Avenue, could be completed at additional cost: for an extra $50,000, the system down to Maple Street could be replaced; going from the creek down to Elm Street would add $182,000; and an additional $288,000 would replace the entire drainage system to Main Street.
In other words, the bid submitted by Jenex Contracting for the whole project was $672,711.60, again not including GST or contingencies.
Even though paying more than the allotted budget now would be cheaper than completing portions of the drainage system in the future, Coun. Brian McGillivray said context was important.
“We have set upon ourselves a rather ambitious program of expenditure through 2021,” he said. “We haven’t raised taxes, and the other municipalities around us are putting their taxes up. We’re not — we’re holding the line.
“So if we’ve got $500,000 planned, then we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do what we’re going to do with the $500,000. And if we’re going to have to do something else in addition to it, then we’ll have to talk about that in the years to come.”
“We’ve got to keep a lid on expenses,” Coun. McGillivray added, “because I’m telling you we don’t know what we don’t know yet, and I can see the freight train coming.”
“I appreciate the thought of being able to save some cash, but this isn’t the right year for that,” agreed Coun. Scott Korbett.
Council decided to stick with replacing the storm sewers along Church Avenue in schedule A. Although a start has not yet been determined, the contract with Jennex Contracting stipulates work must be completed by Oct. 31.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze