Saint Andrews council rethinking wharf project

Saint Andrews council is rethinking the market square and wharf repairs as costs skyrocket.

At a special council meeting on Monday, town CAO Chris Spear highlighted in his report that after an application made in 2019 for the "rock infill option," the town was approved for a funding of $5 million in early 2021. He said a total funding of $3.7M came from both federal and provincial levels of government, "for the rehabilitation of the wharf and the market square," and the town's share was $1.3M.

However, due to the rise in costs "because of the pandemic, supply issues and fuel issues," the cost for this project has exceeded the $5M mark, he noted.

According to Spear's report, the rock infill option now sits at $6.1M, the timber crib technology that the wharf currently uses costs $7.5M, a concrete crib option amounts to $7.9M, going with steel piling will cost $8.2M and repairing the existing wharf would come down to $5.3M.

He noted to council that, "under the current agreement, the town is responsible for any funding overruns, so we anticipated borrowing $1.3 M originally, then we are potentially looking at an additional $1M to $3M extra. This would create extra annual debt repayments of $150,000 to $290,000 per year which is unsustainable for non-core service use."

Town staff sat with their funding partners and were able to narrow down three options for council, he said, also mentioning that Saint Andrews is not the only town facing such a situation.

The federal government is not able to fund an additional amount, but the province can provide a maximum of "$500,000 in cost overruns," he said, which means if the town decides to take that option, the remainder will be coming from town coffers.

The second option presented was that the town decides to amend the scope of work, getting the market square done first without using the entire funding. He said this will allow them to submit a new application to repair or redo the wharf trestle.

"We can amend the scope of the work and only do a portion of the work in phase 1. From staff's perspective, that would be market square, wrap the steel piles on the pierhead and do very basic repairs to the approach. This would likely run around $2.5M to $3.00," stated the report.

The final option presented to council was the town abandons the entire project and re-applies for a new amount, advising the Regional Development Corporation, which would put them at a loss of $65,000 which has been spent on the engineering fee.

Spear also suggested that if council wishes to go with the second or third option, a safety inspection of the wharf trestle should be done to better understand its current position and identify the appropriate measures for safe future use. He noted that the heavy vehicular traffic on the wharf has been limited to pedestrians and small trucks and buses, eliminating large trucks, boom trucks or coaches.

At the meeting, Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson expressed his thoughts saying, "I actually think we should do the work at market square that's in number two and then I think we should go and apply and say that we only spent half of the money."

He said re-applying with the best case for the rest of the work will be a good option and can open negotiations.

"I would like to use some of the money that we have got guaranteed and I would like to say that if they approved it once, they must see merit in the project and I think they would actually understand because this is happening all over the country that prices have gone up so high."

All members of the council were seen in consensus with the second option and during the discussion, councillors did note that having the inspection done to ensure safety will be a vital component.

Town clerk Paul Nopper confirmed that council's direction to the staff was to "go back to the funding partners and look for a change of scope to the project to include just the market wharf raising and securing for climate change adaptation and completing repairs to the piles on the pierhead and the wharf and that we reapply for the funding for the approach and that we also do a safety inspection and have a safety report done on the wharf."

The motion for the amendment will come to the council in the next regular council meeting, he added.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal