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Rising costs and longer waiting times throwing a spanner into municipal works: Fernie

Projects already contracted will take longer, and projects still in the works will cost more
The city’s line painting program has been delayed by a lack of materials delivered for the 2022 summer season. Pictured: The VIC carpark, done by a contractor. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Increasing costs and delays are forcing the City of Fernie to re-think some major projects.

Besides the sani-dump plan delays brought about by an over budget tender, general expenses and long-sought after infrastructure upgrades and updates are coming back well over budget or significantly delayed.

READ MORE: No sani-dump on the horizon for Fernie

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) with the city, Michael Boronowski said that the tight labour market and supply chain hiccups were the cause of problems that were directly impacting city works, with the city’s line painting program set back due to a lack of materials.

“We only received a portion of our order,” he said. “Typically this has never been an issue, but we just don’t have materials to complete our line painting work this year.”

In other general operational costs, the city’s fuel costs have gone up 82 percent for gasoline and 61 percent for diesel, while the road patching program costs have gone well up, with the mix for the patching and paving program going from around $100 a tonne to over $400 a tonne in a year and a half.

Planned upgrades for the Aquatic Centre have also come back over budget, requiring a re-think, while the discretionary upgrades to Annex Park still need funding secured for all four to go ahead as envisioned due to rising costs.

The problem was either items costing more than expected (and costing more the longer the city waits), or items already under contract taking a long time to be delivered.

Core projects already gone to contract will be proceeding without additional costs, but timelines will be throwing out delays on delivery.

“If we can secure contracts and pricing now, that’s critical,” said Boronowski. “Then we have to live with waiting to take delivery.”

Boronowski said the challenges were forcing the city to re-think how it went about projects.

“We’re at a point where we’re rethinking projects, or phasing them so that we can attack them in manageable chunks, and find manageable funding solutions for them.”

Going forward, the city would be taking a more conservative approach to new budget items and bake-in higher contingencies to account for prices, and waiting times.

Asked whether the change in cost of doing business (and time to do it) would play a major part in all budget discussions (and likely taxes) for the city going forward, Boronowski said it would be coming up.

“I think cost of materials and project costs are an unavoidable topic right now. It’s going to be a big challenge for every municipality across B.C. and across Canada.”

READ MORE: Fernie approves $287K in expenses to fix wastewater infrastructure
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