Cenotaph Park official opening may be June 30
By Chris Conway
The Invermere cenotaph park is slated to be substantially completed for the upcoming Grad March event (June 24). An official opening is tentatively scheduled for June 30.
District of Invermere chief administrative officer, Chris Prosser gave a progress update at the June 9 council meeting. He attributed the project delays to two unexpected complications; a water main break on 7th Avenue and the extent of a silt layer that required a geotechnical survey in the middle of the project.
Mayor Gerry Taft expressed his personal disappointment regarding the project delays. “But, it’s getting close to the end,” said Taft. “The comments I’m starting to get from people are much more positive. It will come together here and I think it will be great for July and August.”
“Everybody on council is disappointed it wasn’t done even faster,” said Councillor Greg Anderson. “The fact is that penalties aren’t there to impose, but it’s going to be done and it will be done shortly.”
“I feel pretty confident that it’s going to be a well built park,” said Coun. Paul Denchuk. “We’re not going to see it fall apart in the next five to 10 years, so I think they’ve done a good job. I’d rather see them do a good job and take a little bit longer.”
Taft responded to a question about what the district may do differently on future projects. “To be totally honest I think the reality in future projects of that scale is that we can’t avoid July and August,” he said. “If we just do a normal project where construction starts in the spring and it keeps going until it’s finished, then it almost doesn’t matter if it finishes in September or it finishes in October. You can keep going until it’s done.”
“There always is unexpected things that come up,” added Taft. “What’s been challenging for us was we were really trying to finish before busy times. Going forward the reality is that we just won’t be able to.” He compared the situation to projects in Calgary, which he said proceed through July and August and through Stampede.
“The reality is any restrictions that we put in place as far as penalties or requirements to be finished at a certain time, we pay for that because the pricing will be much higher due to the uncertainty from a contractor’s point of view about being able to guarantee the work being done on time,” said Taft.
“So is it worth an extra $100,000 to have something done a month earlier?” asked Taft rhetorically. “Probably not, and so that’s going to be tough, especially if we talk about downtown revitalization and ripping up main street. There’s no way we could avoid the July and August window, so I think it’s going to be a number of years before that discussion is even entertained. I know that people are not ready for it and construction is pretty disruptive.”
Coun. Justin Atterbury explained that when the original quotes for the cenotaph project came in they were astronomical due to a district requirement for a $5,000 per day penalty for late performance. “If we had put penalties in place we would end up paying for it if they finish on time or whatever,” he said. “It seems like a good idea but in practicality we end up paying more for that, and for the extra few weeks for me, I’d rather it be done well and then be done.”
Taft explained another issue faced by the district. He said that the district prefers to use local contractors but that with that comes a different way of doing business.
He explained that local contractors have to fit projects in with other work being done in the area. An outside contractor brings in a crew and equipment and is motivated to get finished quickly because of the costs of being away from their home base as well as the fact that they have nothing else requiring their attention.
“It’s a tough one,” Taft said. “We want to support local businesses and jobs but on the flip side we recognize that that is going to be a longer construction period.”
“I don’t think that any one of us here at this table is real happy with how the project has gone timing wise,” said Coun. Al Miller. “I’ll speak for myself, I’m certainly not happy with it, but it is what it is. There were no penalties in place but we were able to afford the project so we did it that way and we tried our best to avoid the busy season.
“I certainly wouldn’t suggest that, going forward, we are not going to have penalties in place for certain projects. We have to keep things moving at a proper pace and I really believe our contractor (Max Helmer Construction) was a little lax. Whether it was his fault or finding enough qualified people to do the project, whatever. Some things fell through the cracks there and we felt that and we felt the heat because of it,” added Miller.
CAO Prosser told council that staff is looking at June 30 for a probable official opening of the new park. The deadline for substantial completion is June 24, to be ready for the Grad March. The 2015 Invermere Grad March will be held at 5:30 p.m. starting at the Debbie Seel Centre community hall and proceeding past the cenotaph to the Invermere Curling Club.
It is expected that 90 grads from David Thompson Secondary School will march in the event.
“It will be ready,” said Prosser. “I have faith.”
Lead photo: Mac-Neil Landscaping work crew at cenotaph park shortly after laying the turf on June 16. From left to right Jimmie Robson, Ryan Brooks, Brayden Farley, Brad Williamson, Gord Fullerton (Ops Mgr) and Scott Chaffey. Photo credit: Chris Conway.