The City of Fernie will forge ahead with all required flood mitigations in the Maiden Lake area despite a potential shortfall in grant funding.
The City has been approved for a $1.5 million grant through the National Disaster Mitigation Program for dike improvements in the Maiden Lake area.
The project will include raising the dike to protect commercial and residential properties from flooding and was identified as the highest priority in the 2017 Elk River Flood Mitigation Plan.
At the June 10 regular meeting, council was asked to award the Maiden Lake Dike Improvements contract.
The City received three bids for the project, which was split into two parts – the dike improvements and optional 6th Avenue road raising and dike extension work.
Director of Operational Services Zabrina Pendon explained that the decision was made to tender the 6th Avenue work as optional because the project estimate used in the grant application did not take into account addressing the tie-in gap in the dike and this could potentially push the work over budget.
In order to address the gap, the construction of a dike extension down the east side of 6th Avenue from 18th Street to Fairway Drive, as well as raising of 6th Avenue to the Flood Construction Level, is required.
Terus Construction Ltd. dba BA Blacktop submitted the lowest bid of $1,666,423.73, which included $1,346,145.38 for the Maiden Lake dike, $240,924.84 for the optional works and 10 per cent construction contingency.
Staff identified that completing both the dike and optional works would put the project $330,000 over the $1.5 million budget when the other project fees are added. They recommended awarding the base contract and monitoring the work as it’s being completed to see if there’s funding left over to complete the 6th Avenue work, or if additional funds need to be drawn from other sources, such as the roads program.
“When is this going to become a critical project for us to consider and what’s going to be the cost increase of not doing that project in alignment with what’s already happening in this area?” asked Mayor Ange Qualizza.
Pendon indicated the City could apply for other grant funding or include the work in next year’s budget.
Councillor Phil Iddon said he wanted to see the project fully completed this year.
“I’d like to see this job done and finished,” he said. “This year we had a mild spring, very little run off… so we got lucky but next year could be the next big one, we’ve been having more frequent events than we ever have, so I’d like to see it done one way or another.
“If there’s $750,000 in grant money left over, there’s $14 million in dike work that’s been identified by different consultants along the entire Elk River, so there’s plenty of other places where we could apply for grant money for other deficiencies in our dike system, so I think we should still be applying for that grant money.
“If we’re putting in several hundred thousand dollars, we’re certainly getting big bang for our tax dollar… because of the grant money… We should find a way to finish this project so it’s buttoned up tight because in 2013 there was no wriggle room anywhere for freeboard.”
Iddon moved to complete the full project with additional funds allocated from the City’s reserves if necessary. He was supported by council and the contract was awarded to BA Blacktop, pending approval by the Province.
Maiden Lake will be closed to the public during the project, which is expected to take place from the beginning of July to the end of August.
Pendon said a fish biologist has identified the best time to begin the work, however, an exact start date is to be confirmed due to the “moving parts” of the project.
At the request of Qualizza, she explained that an environmental scientist has identified species in the area and appropriate mitigations.
Fish and migratory birds are the main species of concern and under the environmental management plan, the contractor will be required to conduct a migratory bird survey prior to commencing work.