SACKVILLE, N.B. – It’s taken much longer than expected but Sackville town council finally awarded a contract last Monday night that will see work get started on flood mitigation efforts on Lorne Street.
The nearly $2-million contract was awarded to Birch Hill Construction Ltd., of Moncton, with work to include construction of a large storm water retention pond, featuring walkways around it, in an area off of St. James Street. Also included in the project will be a smaller settling pond off Lorne Street in the Dufferin Street area.
Coun. Bruce Phinney, the lone vote against the contract, voiced his frustration that the newly-redesigned plan still leaves Sackville vulnerable to flooding in that area of town. He said the new storm water retention pond being proposed will only hold up to 40,000 cubic metres of water but the town would need two and a half times that capacity to manage the larger 1-in-50-year or 100-year rain storms.
“So I see no relevance in doing this,” said Phinney.
He said the town is also proposing, in a follow-up phase that comes with an estimated $350,000 price tag, to construct an additional retention pond in the Pickard Quarry to provide additional storage of about 22,000 cubic metres. But even with that extra capacity, it will still fall short of the 100,000 cubic metres the town needs for proper flood control.
Phinney questioned how much more money the town is going to spend before the project is actually complete.
“I really feel it’s the wrong way to go. I think we need to stop it now and look at another way to go and do this project,” he said.
Phinney said he wasn’t impressed with the proposal by Crandall Engineering, the Moncton-based consulting firm that designed the project, and was irked over the fact the town had to go back to the drawing board earlier this fall after the first tender came in significantly over budget.
The town was initially planning for a proposal that included two large retention ponds, new drainage pipes and ditches, as well as a new double-gated aboiteau structure; but the contractor was forced to rejig the plan after bids for the tenders came in more than double the projected cost. The bids ranged from $5.9 million to $8.02 million, although only about $2.9 million in municipal, provincial and federal funds has been set aside for the work.
Under the new plan, the water will be routed from the St. James Street retention pond through existing ditches to culverts under the CN tracks at Crescent Street where it will connect to ditching systems in the marshy fields and sent to the Tantramar river using provincially-owned aboiteaux.
Coun. Bill Evans acknowledged that having to re-tender the project was obviously a setback but felt Crandall provided a satisfactory reasoning behind the unanticipated high bids from contractors. Evans said he is pleased with the new plan and feels that, even though the storage capacity isn’t as high as the town originally planned for, Sackville will still be in a much better position to mitigate the flood damage from the majority of rain storms that occur.
Evans said the town successfully completed the first phase on Lorne Street last year, which included major reconstruction work and new ditching, and feels it would be a shame not to take advantage of the government funding to start the next phase. He said being able to contain about two-thirds of the water of the original plan is a good start.
“The proposal that we have is very impressive as far as I’m concerned,” said Evans. “We are doing the best that we can afford to do. And we are doing it in such a way that if we do get extra funding, we’ll be able to add to this project with minimal undoing.”
“The alternative would be to say no to the money and not do anything. I’m almost speechless considering that alternative,” he said.
Coun. Michael Tower agreed with Evans, saying if the town doesn’t do anything at this time, “we’re going to be in a mess.”
Tower said once staff meets with the contractor, a public information session will be scheduled to provide more details on items such as the construction schedule, timeline and any anticipated disruptions. The work is expected to get under way this winter.
Birch Hill was the lowest of six bidders for the job, with contracts ranging from $1.985 million to $2.608 million.