By James Matthews
Town council will cover costs above budgeted amounts for repairs at two Highlands East municipal garages on Highway 118.
Abby Armstrong, the town’s public works manager, urged council when it met Nov. 22 to approve the two over-budget contracts in order to keep the price for the work low.
That’s right: If council waits to re-tender for better prices, the way the marketplace has been in these pre-recession pandemic days, the cost to do the work later is likely to be higher.
Ministry of Labour inspectors took a look at the town’s garages at 19897 Highway 118 and another garage at 19951 on Highway 118.
“They addressed a few health and safety concerns,” she said.
It was noted that the municipality is required to have a pedestrian vehicle plan in place for anyone who would be entering the public works yards to obtain sand for their driveways in the winter.
To alleviate these health and safety matters, the Public Works yards are closed to the public.
“We do not have a plan in place, nor are we staffed or have the resources to be able to monitor the coming of vehicles of pedestrian traffic,” Armstrong said.
The public may access sand as required at the old Gooderham garage and the Cardiff works garage, with council to give direction to staff if an alternative location is required.
A sand policy to address any future matters and the efficacy of this matter will be brought forward to council at a later date.
Mayor Dave Burton asked why Ministry of Labour inspectors visited the town’s facilities?
“Did they just drop in out of the blue for a visit?” he said.
Armstrong said ministry inspectors are known to visit unannounced.
“This was brought forward from a matter that was brought forward,” she said. “So they did come out. I actually feel it was a benefit in the sense that we did get to have an ergonomics inspector come through. They were able to address a few issues as well.
“It was a really good inspection. They’re very open and willing to work with us with any matters that arise.”
Those are the town garages on which roofs need to be replaced.
Public Works recommended that council award the contract to replace the roof at 19897 Highway 118 to Irvcon Ltd. at a cost of $164,820.00.
The department also asked council to approve the contract for work on the roof at the garage located at 19951 Highway 118 to Amherst Roofing and Sheetmetal Ltd. at a cost of $184,491.00.
The garage roofs require a full replacement to ensure the health and safety of staff. It was work required as outlined in the 2019 Facility Condition Assessment. As such, they were budgeted at the current market value in 2022 to be remediated and repaired.
Three bids were received from Amherst Roofing & Sheetmetal Ltd., Irvcon Ltd., and Simluc Contractors Ltd. for each roof project.
The 2022 budget allowed $80,000 for each roof. But, with the increase in costs of fuel, material, and price changes due to material availability, the costs have increased outside of the 2022 budgeted amount.
Staff urged council to earmark $189,311 to be included in the 2023 capital budget for work on both garage roofs. It accounts for aforementioned changes in fuel and other materials.
Armstrong said it isn’t ideal to have to complete roof work in the fall and winter.
“After discussion with a few of the different (contractor) candidates, they did note that they would hold their costs. However, it would have to be approved by council.”
Both contractors have agreed to hold their prices, providing the municipality award them the contracts and issue a purchase order to each company in 2022.
If council doesn’t approve the proposal, Public Works will have to retender the work in Spring 2023. With market volatility, if council chooses not to award the contracts, the municipality will more than likely see an increase for the roof work in 2023.
“This report is essentially a request to have the tenders awarded,” Armstrong said.
Burton wanted to know if the roofs were in such disrepair that work absolutely had to be carried out sooner rather than later, following a retender in 2023.
“To me, the prices are extreme,” Burton said, and asked that council defer the work to be retendered in the new year.
Deputy Mayor Cecil Ryall said perhaps the high price may just be a sign of the times.
“I don’t think anybody is going to gouge us because the numbers (in bids) are too close,” Ryall said. “I don’t have a problem with deferring this, if we want to, to a later date.
“I just want to make sure, at the end of the day, that we don’t defer it to the point where we close our option on the prices that we currently have.”
He said prices could easily increase, and he suggested the town research other options, other sources to get the work done.
“I’m very concerned that this is a sign of the times of things to come,” Ryall said.
Shannon Hunter, the town’s CAO/treasurer, asked about the level of deterioration at the garages and if there was indeed a hole in the roof at garage 19951.
Armstrong said both garages have deterioration.
“There are holes in both roofs,” she said. “That was kind of the main concern, obviously. It is not anticipated that the roofs will collapse tomorrow.”
Garage 19897 has leaks that are causing damage to the roof and paint and drywall through the rest of the structure.
“There is extensive work that does need to occur at both buildings,” Armstrong said.