CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council voted against a request for a report from administration on the Brookdale Ave. sewer extension project at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 22.
The $10.7 million dollar project will extend sewer services to the northern portion of Brookdale Ave. near Cornwall Centre Rd.
Councillor Justin Towndale had put forward a motion asking for quarterly reports from administration about the project, seeking more information on any delays or cost overruns.
Towndale pointed out that Council had to approve an additional $75,000 in funding for an engineering study that was not included in the original tender and that a report included in Monday night’s agenda detailed $35,000 in cost overruns.
“There’s a lot of money tied into this not just in terms of the project itself but in terms of investment. We had a representative from Irving for example come down and talk about a $150 million project that would create jobs in the community at their location at the end of Brookdale,” Towndale said. “When you look like things like that and auto dealers moving up there and future development, there’s a lot tied up there that’s not necessarily in the ticket price that we’re paying,” he added. “If the project’s ending, I’d still like to see something that explains the difficulties that were encountered. It seems like there were a few hurdles hit at least that’s the impression I get,” Towndale concluded.
Councillor Towndale had previously requested similar oversight and reporting on the City’s Municipal Works Yard re-development project. A 10-year project, the Municipal Works Yard re-development had used up its $5 million cost overrun contingency budget in the first two years.
Cornwall Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Maureen Adams pushed back on the assertion that there would be cost overruns associated with the Brookdale Ave. sewer project.
“In the third quarter report we’ve indicated that we’re potentially committed by a little over $100,000. That’s one per cent within budget. There are still provisional items in this project that might not be required, that might not be spent. The project might come in under budget,” she said. “This project is fully funded through an area specific development charge. So the project is being funded and paid for by the benefitting property owners along Brookdale Ave. So a final report is going to have to come forward with information to all of those property owners to show them what those costs were to finalize the development charges that they are going to be charged.”
Adams also countered that the Municipal Works Yard project and the sewer extension project were very different.
“The reporting for the Municipal Works Yard project; its a multiple year project, potentially 10 years, multiple phases in the project, multiple tenders. This is a fairly straight forward project. Although, any significant sewer project can have some unanticipated costs, but overall the project is certainly from my perspective within budget. The main construction tender for this project awarded to Louis Bray (Construction Ltd.) was for $9.7 million, the project is $10.7 million,” said Adams. “So from my perspective, if we wanted to go back through that process, like we did for the Municipal Works Yard. I’m going to indicate that it is a significant amount of work. The project is nearly completed.”
The majority of Council sided with administration’s assessment.
“I can appreciate where Justin is coming from, wanting to get information about this project. Small towns rumours start, but I don’t think there is any information you can get in a report that you can’t get from a quick conversation with administration,” said Councillor Todd Bennett. “I just think a report is going to be cumbersome on them. I don’t think it is a big enough reason for a report to come out.”
Council voted against Towndale’s motion asking for a project management reporting plan for the Brookdale Ave. sewer extension project by a margin of 9-2 with only Councillor Eric Bergeron, who seconded, the motion voting with Towndale.