City council transfers funds for creek project

Council voted to transfer the necessary funds from two bike lane projects for the proposed Penticton Creek rehabilitation.

Penticton city council held a special meeting on July 29 to both approve a contractor to create a “showcase” of proposed Penticton Creek rehabilitation measures and approve an increased budget for the project.

“This is a showcase component for a much larger project for the revitalization or rehabilitation of the creek,” said Len Chapman, noting that two years have been spent on the design.

The project involves the removal of the concrete lining in a section of the creek and replacing with riprap and large river rock, which is going to be embedded in concrete over an approximately 80-metre section, immediately upstream of the Ellis Creek bridge.

But Chapman also told council that due to a variety of challenges, the estimated cost of the project had risen, and was going to cost about $108,000 more than what had already been allocated.

“Only two tenders were received. One was $330,000 and the other tender was $420,000,” said Chapman. “Working on the lower of the two, it is still $94,000 higher than our engineer had estimated it would cost. Together with some additional monitoring costs and administration costs, means that we are short by a little over $108,000.”

Earlier in July, council approved an additional $50,000, to cover costs associated with moving the location of the showcase project from lower on the creek than its present planned location. That, said Chapman, is not included in the $108,000 cost increase.

Coun. Helena Konanz was concerned about the rise in cost, and questioned whether the showcase project needed to be done at all, or could just be left as part of the full project in upcoming years.

Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations, explained to council that because a large portion of the funding is coming from outside sources, that money could be lost if not used now, and might interfere with the city’s ability to gain future funding for the full project.

“That is a concern to us. You are walking away from 73 per cent funding if you don’t do it,” said Moroziuk.

A proposal from Coun. Andre Martin that the project be shortened from the current 80-metre length also met with  a negative response. Chapman told council that wouldn’t be a practical solution.

The project, at 80 metres in length, includes three riffles, rough sections of the creek bed. To shorten up the section would change the hydraulics on the rest of the section and cause other design changes.

“We have already reduced it. It started out at 100 metres. We have reduced it as far as we can. We are really at the all or nothing stage at this point,” said Chapman.

At staff’s suggestion, council voted to transfer the necessary funds from two bike lane projects, which Chapman said would not be completed this year, as was planned.

“We would use those funds for building the creek instead. We have funds totalling $119,000 in that budget account we would simply transfer that over to the creek project, which would allow them to award the project to proceed,” he said.

Konanz was the lone councillor to vote against the transfer of funds.