Traction made on sidewalk project

BC Hydro to fund one-third of the cost to bury overhead cables.

BC Hydro will provide some financial help with the district’s $900,000 Shuswap Avenue improvement project that includes the construction of a sidewalk and the burying of power and utility lines.

District town manager Evan Parliament confirmed BC Hydro will be paying one-third of the $300,000 cost of putting the hydro lines underground along Shuswap from Finlayson Street to Martin Street.

News of BC Hydro’s contribution was shared at the Feb. 10 council meeting,  part of  a recommendation that council authorize staff to amend the existing engineering design for Shuswap to accommodate the underground work.

Public works supervisor Darrell Symbaluk explains in a memo to council that the design amendment was to accommodate provisions for the burying of BC Hydro, Telus and Mascon cable.

“To date, we’ve engaged TRUE and asked them if they could do it,” said Symbaluk. “We haven’t talked about a price on getting the additional engineering done. I would expect it would fall in line with the rate of what they charge us to do the sidewalk – it would be the same rate.”

Coun. Jeff Mallmes said he would like to know the price beforehand.

“I’d hate to just say… charge us whatever you see is fit…,” said Mallmes. “I think it would be wise to ask them to  give us a price to complete this. Then at least we know where we’re at on it so there’s no surprises.”

Instead of tabling the request, Parliament and chief financial officer Kelly Bennett suggested council could approve an amended recommendation so that the project could proceed to tender after the additional cost is determined.

“Rather than start all over, we certainly have the marching orders from council to sit down with the engineering firm and make sure we keep it tight and come back with a figure we’re comfortable with,” commented Parliament. “I believe by, we’re talking two weeks from today…we should have an opportunity to give you a ballpark figure you’re comfortable with to get the tender documents out there for the $600,000 to build the sidewalks and the $300,000 to bury the power.”

During question period, Mayor Terry Rysz explained the sidewalk project is one of a couple concepts for a pedestrian pathway along Shuswap. The second, he said, would involve an extended asphalt walking path going in the opposite direction from where the sidewalk will end on Martin.

From the gallery, Fred Busch asked that such a path be kept at a one-degree grade, noting how in some places, “if you were to walk along that all the time, eventually one leg would get longer… it is rather awkward, especially when you get to be a senior and you’re not very steady on your feet anymore, it certainly does make a difference.”