A massively over-budget construction project in Bracebridge has councillors questioning the tender process.
On Tuesday the Town of Bracebridge agreed to contribute just under half the cost for a $4.5 million dollar reconstruction of Winchester Avenue, Bird Lane and Richard Street. The District of Muskoka will pay roughly $2.5 million and the Town will pick up the remainder.
The project came in at roughly double what the Town had expected it to cost, triggering a $959,409 budget deficit.
Concerns were expressed when the matter came up at District Council regarding the fact that only a single bid was submitted for the project. Those concerns were reiterated by Councillor Don Smith during Tuesday’s Bracebridge general committee meeting.
Smith said the total cost of the project was now equivalent to a 5% increase on the tax levy.
“At some point, we need to raise that money from the community,” said Smith. “I can’t support it.’
Yvon Gravel, engineering technologist with the Town of Bracebridge, admitted that the cost had caught staff off guard “by a large margin”. He said the fact that only one bid was received (the successful bid from Fowler Construction) was a bit of an unpleasant surprise. He said the issue of few bids for large projects was a recurring problem for the District.
He pointed to factors such as increases in the cost of concrete and aggressive increases in other areas as the primary driver for the budget overun.
Gravel said the streets in question are long overdue for reconstruction, with stormwater deficiencies and sidewalks that don’t meet accessibility standards.
Sections of roadway set for reconstruction include Bird Lane from Taylor Road to its end, Richard Street from Bird Lane to Woodchester Avenue, and Woodchester Avenue from Richard Street to 130 m southerly. The project will tackle water and wastewater infrastructure beneath these roads.
Coun. Barb McMurray said the project has been postponed for the past 4 or 5 years and is continually being cancelled.
“We can’t continue to put the brakes on,” she said.
The motion ultimately passed with councillor Smith voting against.
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