Kelowna has awarded the construction contract for one of its most high-profile, and at times controversial, construction projects the city has undertaken in several years.
The $11-million contract to replace aging utilities under the city’s main downtown street, Bernard Avenue, rebuild the road and revitalize the streetscape above ground has been awarded to Vernon-based CGL Contracting Ltd., city hall announced Wednesday afternoon.
The entire project will cost about $13.5 million when all costs are factored in.
Businesses in the area will contribute about 25 per cent of the cost of the streetscape portion of the project, which is expected to be about $4 million of the total.
The facelift of the road is expected to radically change the look of Kelowna’s main downtown thoroughfare.
The work will encompass the stretch of Bernard from the Sails sculpture on the lakeshore up to just west of the intersection with Richter Street.
The Bernard Avenue Revitalization project will be carried out in three phases, the first this fall, the second next spring and the third in the fall of 2013.
Completion of all work is slated the summer of 2014, following landscaping work in the spring of 2014 following the road reconstruction .
The reason for the phased work is to accommodate businesses located on Bernard Avenue that don’t want to have the street torn up and their business directly affected during the busy summer and Christmas shopping months.
“The civil works are not, for the most part, that challenging but the schedule in order to accommodate the businesses in the area is,” said Purvez Irani, the city manager of roads, drainage and solid waste projects.
Irani said the “fine details” of the construction schedule will now be worked out with CGL, and the company will be offered the opportunity to do some preliminary work at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street, which is technically just outside of the revitalization project area.
One of the challenges will be putting the road back in drivable condition following the first two phases of the work, and also losing the prime construction months of July and August next year.
The city said four “prequalified” tenders were received for the construction contract, with CGL’s bid the most competitive.
“The next steps will see the construction schedule finalized with the contractor, including the traffic management plan and the other details the business community is interested in knowing,” said Bill Berry, Kelowna director of design and construction services.
“It’s a priority for us to keep businesses and residents informed as we move forward in delivering this significant revitalization project.”
Some businesses are still concerned about the effect the work will have on their financial bottom lines over the next few years despite many public meetings and discussions with the city over the last 18 months. While some agree with the multi-phased approach, others lobbied to have the work done in one sustained period, arguing it was better to get it over and done with, rather than drag it out.
Still others wanted the work fast-tracked and work done during the winter, a move the city said would add millions of dollars to the cost.
Some business owners feel the city should provide financial compensation for lost trade, a call the city has rejected.
Meanwhile, the city also announced that one of its own communications officers, Kelly Kay, will serve as the business liaison for the project, to support local businesses during the construction work.
Kay, who joined the city’s communications team in the spring, is described as a public relations practitioner with a journalism degree who used to work for one of the largest law firms in Saskatoon and has also operated her own small business.
Last year, the city hired the communications firm that handled the communications plan for Banff when it launched a revitalization project for its very busy main street a few years ago. The Kelowna communications plan is expected to keep the public, and area merchants, aware of what is happening and when different aspects of the work will be done.
The city has said it will provide ongoing updates through the media and on its own website once the construction gets underway.