District goes back to original plan for Gellatly Road phase three upgrade

After spending tens of thousands on a geotechnical study, West Kelowna has opted for the original phase three Gellatly Road upgrade plan.

Tens of thousands of dollars and a delay of at least six months was the price the District of West Kelowna paid to learn cutting into the slope to provide more parking along Gellatly Road is not a feasible option.

West Kelowna council voted to proceed with the original Gellatly Road phase three upgrade plan at last week’s council meeting.

On June 26, 2012, West Kelowna issued an invitation to tender, which resulted in bids from two companies. TT Contractors Ltd. was the low bidder with a price tag of $2.5 million.

Council rejected the bid July 24—days before the proposed start of construction. The top concern was the proposed upgrade didn’t provide enough parking.

District staff was directed to investigate methods of adding more on-street parking along Gellatly Road, between Angus Road and approximately 100 metres south of Boucherie Road.

Beacon Geotechnical Ltd. carried out an investigation from Nov. 9 to 14 to determine cost estimates of adding parking spaces.

Council was left with three options: Proceed with the original design, excavate partly into the slope to increase parallel parking or excavate further into the slope to provide angle parking.

The parallel parking excavation option would provide 55 additional parking spots with an added project cost of $1.5 million, or $27,000 per stall. The angle parking excavation option would create 138 additional spots for an extra $3.35 million, or $24,000 per stall.

Despite the high cost estimates, some councillors still wanted to see the district pay for additional parking.

“The demand in this vicinity is really going to increase,” said Coun. Bryden Winsby.

“When is this municipality going to have enough money to do this kind of work? Short answer, from what I see around this table, is never.

“We can always take the cheap route, but I’m not convinced we shouldn’t do this.”

Council voted 4-2 in favour of going back to the original design.

After the July 24 meeting, Mayor Doug Findlater said he didn’t want to waste any more time or money on redesign plans. Now that those plans are complete, he said he’s happy council decided to go back to the original concept, rather than spending millions of extra dollars on parking.

“I’m very pleased that council saw the light on this one and that this unnecessary extra expenditure isn’t going to take place,” said Findlater.

The West Kelowna mayor added he wished council hadn’t spent “tens of thousands of dollars” to have the geo-tech report completed.

In July, several council members also showed concern about the removal of 41 Katsura trees, which is part of the proposed plan; however, no member of council raised that issue last week.

“Trees are taken down and replaced all the time; we can replace (them) with better trees,” said Findlater.

“There will be some unhappiness about that, but we have other areas where we have replanted.”

“The health issue about those trees…they seem to deteriorate very quickly later on in the summer, ahead of when they should.”

The rejection of the initial bid earlier this year was not well received by TT Contractors Ltd.

In a July 26 letter to the district, it stated: “As low bidder, we had allotted time to do the job, set aside employees, lined up subcontractors. We missed out tendering other projects assuming the Gellatly Road upgrade was a go. Now, as a result of a change of mind from council, we are being forced to lay off employees and cancel subcontractors that had been preparing for the contract work.”

Findlater doesn’t think that burned bridge will have a negative impact on the tendering process this time around.

“People are still hungry out there in contractor land; I think we’ll still be able to attract good bids—maybe even more competitive.

“Council did have the right to (reject the bid) and contractors know that.”

The phase three upgrade will be a 2013 budget item but several council members mentioned it is in everyone’ best interest to have the work done before next year’s summer season.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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