How much will the Colliery Dams remediation project cost?

At the Nanaimo Council meeting on Monday, August 10, 2015, the estimated $5 million dollar Colliery Dams remediation project was on the agenda.

Council approved the following:

  • to waive the City’s Purchasing Bylaw requirement for a public tender
  • to invite four contractors to submit tenders for construction of the Colliery Dams Auxiliary Spillway
  • to use a ‘cost plus contract’

Three delegations had concerns about the open-ended cost plus contract. This was followed by discussion. Seven voted in favour (Hong, Brennan, Yoachim, Bestwick, Pratt, Thorpe, Mayor McKay) and two against (Kipp, Fuller).

Here are some highlights from the meeting:

Delegation 1: “…finished drawings are required, Golder [Engineers] hasn’t finished the drawings…If drawings are not completed by Golder, can’t they ask for an extension? Did the City ask for an extension?

McKay: “No.”

Delegation 1: “…the costs could be out of hand with this type of cost plus contract…taxpayers won’t know what the end costs will be.”

McKay: “We’re under an order. I wouldn’t recommend we ask for an extension.”

Delegation 2: “…this is an open door to corruption, cronyism and collusion…There are no plans completed. The pictures on the website are misleading. Why waive the cities purchasing policy…it is crazy to sole source a $5 million project…”

McKay: interrupts delegation many times (lots of eye rolling)

Delegation 2: “Mr. Davidson [Director & Comptroller of Water Rights] told me he was flexible and that if the City is under pressure it’s not from him.”

Delegation 2: “Mr. Davidson [Director & Comptroller of Water Rights] told me he was flexible—if the City is under pressure it’s not from him.”

McKay: “We have a deadline…”

Before the vote, Council had a discussion:

Bestwick: “…why do we need to waive the City’s purchasing bylaw? We know there isn’t any requirement for blasting, there is bedrock… ‘Substantial Completion’ what is that? The government says we have to have ‘substantial completion’ by November 15th. Why this mysterious end date? Are we going to design while we build?”

McKay: “Are you ready for tender today?”

Swabey: “No…’substantial completion’ is up to the comptroller…this is a very straight forward job.”

Bestwick: “Why is it such a massive undertaking to get drawings to tender?”

Yoachim: “…we’re doing this under duress…we have a worse case scenario. Where is the limitation on costs? We have to have a maximum we are going to pay.”

Fuller: “this makes no sense…we don’t have drawings for the September 1st deadline…to put this out as a ‘cost plus contract’ makes no sense… Let’s get the most contractors we can to bid on this project and get the best price.”

Staff: “…cost plus is not done often…There is uncertainty to the price, you don’t have time to complete the design and don’t have time to tender…the November 15th [2015] deadline is the only deadline they care about.”

Fuller: “We just received a letter [from the Dam Safety Section]…they expect a detailed design report by September 1st…we can’t meet that date…Let’s get an extension…”

Staff: “The drawings are 30% complete…they will see we are making progress. If we delay we will be working in mud…”

Hong: “How many are we expecting to bid for this project? Four? Four and are they local…yes…good. I prefer to have locals…”

Staff: “…if we split up the contract…we would have additional costs.”

Swabey: “There would be change orders all along the way with that type of process…”

Kipp: “…we have no dam expert on this…we are picking our contractors locally…cost plus is a concern for me…we don’t have the size of the of the dam,  downstream mitigation, soil, waste dumping, tree management…spillway…there’s another spillway… [all we have is] just pretty pictures and no real data…I’m disappointed…I can’t support this cost plus contract…”

Staff: “…we checked regarding coal slag…”

Kipp: “…downstream mitigation?”

Staff: “…dead logs in the way…are not a concern.”

Kipp: “…damage to Harewood Creek?…”

McKay: cuts off Kipp, turns off Kipp’s mike

Kipp: “Why turn off my mike?”

McKay: “You were off topic…you started to talk about downstream mitigation…not the cost plus contract.”

(McKay suggested they step outside for ten minutes for a ‘time-out’. Kipp threatened to leave the meeting.)

Yoachim: “I assume it’s going to be monitored…the project…can we have it capped?…the price? What about the trees that are going to be removed? Is there a tree plan?”

Staff: “There is a plan to plant more trees…”

Yoachim: “I know I’m off topic but…washrooms?…landscaping?…”

Thorpe: “…I am satisfied with the assurance with the staff recommendation…we are doing this because of the comptroller’s deadline…not doing this could cost us more money…we have burned our bridges with the BC government…we have been forced into this…”

Brennan: “I am satisfied with staff’s recommendations…I wish we didn’t have the risk
of the [cost plus] process…comptroller’s orders…staff can deal with this…We are the authors of our [mess]. Thorpe you articulated it best…”

Fuller: “we keep bringing up meeting the deadlines…we are only 30% complete on the drawings… we knew about this for a long time…Why did we stop working on the design? Was everything put on hold?…You have to keep going once you start…”

Staff: “contract details will be negotiated at the end of the contract…”

Hong: “I’m happy that it’s going to a local contractor.”

Pratt: “I agree with Councillor Brennan, this is not an ideal situation…timelines are not a red herring…I think the timelines are real…let’s get on with it…”

Bestwick: “I like my ipad…farmers’ long range weather forecast…we have $2 million…we are not spending $30 million…There is no bedrock anymore…We didn’t know that before…now we find out it is a very simple project…we are digging a ditch…if we have 30% of the drawing designs done…I’ve voted in favour of the spillway not knowing all the information…I don’t think we will have completion or substantial completion by November 15th…The comptroller has given permission to be late…they know we can’t make the deadlines…all the intimidation of deadlines…this sucks.”

Vote called: Kipp and Fuller opposed. The remaining Councillors and the Mayor approved.

Mayor McKay’s mood visibly improved after the vote—lots of smiles and laughter.

    4 thoughts on “How much will the Colliery Dams remediation project cost?

    1. People are wondering who authored the blog on the council meeting regarding the Colliery Dam Park fiasco and the council meeting quotes. Would you mind saying who authored this?



    2. Howdy.. Who are the writers and/or publishers of this outlet, please? I’m not comfortable with anonymity from a “news” outlet.. ty..

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