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Contract awarded for Sicamous section of rail trail

Splatsin contractor Yucwmenlúcwu started work on May 13
After an emergency vote by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board, the $111,922.65 contract has been awarded for the 0.5-1.5 kilometre of the rail trail in Sicamous, with work having started on May 13. (CSRD photo)

Due to extenuating circumstances, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) chair Kevin Flynn called an emergency vote to award the contract for the Sicamous stretch of the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail.

With the majority of the board in favour, the CSRD entered into an agreement with Yucwmenlúcwu (Caretaker of the Land) – Splatsin for construction of the 0.5 to 1.5 kilometre section in Sicamous for the amount of $111,922.65. As per the CSRD’s Special Voting Regulation, Flynn and director Colleen Anderson deemed the situation urgent and rather than calling a meeting, had the board vote by email or phone from May 6 to 8.

Though the board could see the reasoning for implementing this procedure, Area C director Marty Gibbons said it’s less than ideal.

“When we do emergency ballots like that, it removes our ability to activate public transparency. I understand there was a reason for it, but I just think that that sort of scenario should be avoided at all costs, just about all costs. There’s so much that, when we don’t have an opportunity to listen to each other and hear our perspectives, I think there’s so much lost from the process, ” Gibbons explained, adding that he did vote in favour of the motion.

Flynn agreed with Gibbons’ concerns and as chair said he will endeavour not to call for an emergency vote unless absolutely necessary, as was the case here. In a report to the board, staff explained the contractor had advised they could delay starting on the Sicamous stretch until the week of May 13 without significantly impacting the work. That meant notices to affected property owners had to go out within days of the vote before construction started the following week, and getting quorum at a last minute meeting might have been difficult.

There is also a financial benefit to getting approval to do the work now as it will use current unit rates and will be less expensive than having it as a separate contract at a later date. Additionally, it will be completed in approximately two months and well in advance of the B.C. Active Transportation Grant deadline.

“At the end of the day it’s a cost savings, because we’re not going back to do that… and the equipment’s right there,” Anderson pointed out.

To fund this additional work, the rail trail owners will reallocate funds from the Rosamond Lake Bridge repair and pedestrian component of the project at the 14.8 kilometre mark, which can be funded later by an upcoming federal grant.

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About the Author: Heather Black

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