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Council approves City of Powell River's largest infrastructure project ever

Councillors vote on wastewater treatment plant bid
APPROVES EXPENDITURE: City of Powell River councillors voted to spend $61 million on the general contract for the consolidated wastewater treatment plant for the city. The contract was awarded to Graham Infrastructure LP, the company that just completed the Victoria region’s wastewater treatment plant.

City of Powell River Council has approved its largest expenditure ever – $61,016,432.65 plus GST – for the consolidated wastewater treatment plant in Townsite.

At the April 15 city council meeting, council gave unanimous approval for the general contractor portion of the project to be awarded to Graham Infrastructure LP.

In introducing the project at the meeting, councillor Jim Palm said councillors had heard a report from manager of engineering services Nagi Rizk earlier in the week at the committee of the whole meeting and Rizk highlighted several pertinent points.

The first was that there were seven bids for the general contact, said Palm.

“They were thoroughly vetted and we came away with three general contractors that were selected for the shortlist,” said Palm. “The three contractors received packages on December 22, 2020, and the tender closed on February 17, 2021. It had been vetted and gone over and I’m happy to report the three bids that came in and were shortlisted were roughly in the same ballpark.

“In short, we have the money in the kitty to hopefully bring this in on budget and on schedule, barring any unforeseen issues. It’s a great step forward for our community, consolidating all of our outfalls into one and serving our entire region and our ocean and our community in a very sustainable, eco-friendly manner.”

Palm said he asked Rizk at the committee of the whole meeting about the scope Graham Infrastructure brings to the table. Palm said Rizk commented that Graham had just completed the Victoria capital region wastewater treatment project that was hundreds of millions of dollars to bring in.

“They [Graham] are not a small company; they are very large and the projects they work on are enormous in scope,” said Palm. “They bring the expertise to our community and the 35 to 55 workers that worked on the Victoria project will be coming to Powell River. It’s not known yet where they will be housed but they will be living in our community and working over the next two to two and a half years to complete the project.”

Palm said he asked before the council meeting if there was anything Rizk wanted to express, and Rizk said to tell the public, in no uncertain terms, this project will be taking considerable time and conveyancing of the piping and pump stations will cause disruptions on streets and roads, so the public has to be patient while this work goes forward for the betterment of Powell River.

“That was an excellent comment that we should all be aware of on a go-forward basis for our community’s well-being,” said Palm. “It is with great pleasure that something that started way back in 1998 is now going to be awarded; the contract to go ahead and build such a facility.”

Mayor thanks former staff

Mayor Dave Formosa said he’d like to thank past manager of engineering services Frank D’Angio, who spent many years working with current director of infrastructure Tor Birtig. Formosa said he also wanted to thank Birtig and Rizk, who have the tremendous responsibility of delivering this project on time and on budget.

“I know that Mr. Rizk and Mr. Birtig have the skills to see us through,” added Formosa. “I thank them and their whole staff.”

Formosa also thanked former city engineer Richard Stogre for his involvement during the early years.

After council voted to give unanimous approval to let the consolidated wastewater treatment plant contract to Graham Infrastructure, Formosa said: “That was an expensive vote. It was our biggest ever.”

At the April 13 committee of the whole meeting, Rizk said Graham’s bid was $1.9 million below an April 2020 cost estimate.

“We are comfortable they can provide this job on time and on budget,” said Rizk.

Rizk said completion of this project, if all goes well, will be by the first quarter of 2023. He said a significant portion of the construction will be carried out in the current fiscal year and he expects an expenditure of about $50 million in that time frame.

Councillor George Doubt asked when the city could expect to see people with tool belts arriving and work starting.

Rizk said with the contract, a certain amount of paperwork is expected once the award has been awarded. He said he expects shovels in the ground in mid-May if council immediately approves the recommendation.