Composting contractors in the blue bin? Council asks for more info on companies seeking Columbia Ave work

Erin Handy
By Erin Handy
March 30th, 2011

Rosslanders will doubtless be happy to know that ISL Engineering staff compost in their Langley office. But despite much such massaging of our sustainability sweet spot in the engineers’ appeals, a rather confused council requested a lot more information Monday before proceeding with a contractor choice for the Columbia Avenue water/sewer/drainage project.


City staff recommended Burnaby-based ISL Engineering for the entire design and construction project, citing a similar recommendation from the provincial Ministry of Transportation. That was good enough for the mayor and councillor Kathy Wallace. But the remaining councillors were not convinced. 


“With the information we received . . . I was unable to differentiate between any of the companies (that responded to the city’s request for engineering qualifications). All I was reading was a bunch of standard brochures from a bunch of engineering companies that are all qualified,” said councillor Andy Stradling.


“It’s a cost-plus contract. The City is incurring a risk . . . the contractor manages the job and there’s no accountability on the part of the contractor to deliver on schedule and cost.”


There is also little clarity as to what exactly the contractor would be delivering. The City of Rossland issued a Request for Qualifications in mid-February, after authorizing administrator Victor Kumar to spend up to $250,000 on what was then referenced as Phase I: detailed design work on the underground sewer, water and storm water drainage infrastructure beneath Columbia and Plewman Avenues and Washington Street.


Specifically, from the RFQ: “to draft the engineering documents including hard cost estimates for upgrades to all existing and proposed sub-surface infrastructure and surface treatments along the Columbia Ave and Washington Street corridors.”


The second phase is subject to further council approval for go-ahead and expenditures, and consists of actual construction.


Monday night’s defeated recommendation would have authorized Kumar to spend up to $300,000 (an unexplained $50,000 boost to February’s allotment) on the basis of minimal information from the contractor as to what that money would buy. The only financial reference in the documents provided council was $50,000- 75,000 for 50 per cent design and the promise of (another) Class C estimate, though staff did interview four shortlisted firms in more depth.


The City already has a Class C estimate completed by WSA in 2009 that staff have in the past stated is not sufficient for understanding the current state of the underground infrastructure, or for proceeding with detailed planning and design. 


“The staff report doesn’t match what the CAO told us,” said Moore. “We’re no longer getting detailed drawings of sub-surface infrastructure . . . were getting something different.”


Kumar explained that another Class C estimate is needed to determine if there are other options to fix the sewer aside from tearing up the street. Columbia Avenue is scheduled (by the ministry of transportation) for repaving in the summer of 2012.


Council voted to ask staff to provide further information on the top four engineering candidates regarding scope of the proposed work under the approved first phase of the Columbia Avenue/ Washington Street project, along with information on expected costs and schedule. 

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