Construction of the proposed Ross Street underpass may start in the spring of 2021. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Construction of the proposed Ross Street underpass may start in the spring of 2021. (City of Salmon Arm illustration)

Salmon Arm’s Ross Street underpass to go to tender but not without risk

City council gives nod to construction agreement after pondering insurance

The majority of Salmon Arm council has approved an agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway that will allow the Ross Street Underpass project to go to tender – but not without risk.

Risk was the main topic of discussion regarding the underpass at council’s Nov. 23 meeting.

A report from the city’s chief administrative officer, Carl Bannister, said the construction agreement, which was drafted by CPR, has undergone several revisions from both sides.

Regarding risk, particularly because it’s an active railway, Bannister’s report said there is a gap in the potential consequences of a serious event (from business interruptions to a derailment as a worst-case scenario) and the city’s insurance.

“Specifically business interruption, loss of profit and consequential damages to CP are not covered by insurance available to the City. The City continues to work with CP to look at alternate options for reducing or eliminating this gap in coverage (CP has agreed to remove direct references to this liability in the agreement; however, this does not remove the liability if so assigned by the courts),” Bannister wrote.

He said staff aren’t confident the issue of business interruption insurance can be resolved through more negotiations.

“The remaining risk is diffcult to quantify, would be case specific and ultimately determined by the courts but could be anticipated to be financially significant if CP’s operations are interrupted for any length of time,” Bannister wrote.

Read more: Election 2018 – Majority of voters give the nod to underpass spending

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Ross Street underpass construction is underway

Coun. Tim Lavery, who emphasized that he believes the underpass is needed and knows staff have worked to their utmost on it, was alone in voting against signing the construction agreement. He said he’s not okay with the risk and would like CP to take on the business interruption insurance.

“If it was other than a liability issue, I would be full-on voting in favour.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn, who noted he’s in the insurance industry, said the city can’t buy the business interruption insurance and it’s not up to the city to determine if CP can. He said CP will undoubtedly do everything it can to mitigate risk.

Flynn said the community voted clearly in favour of the project, and it’s time to tender it. Coun. Debbie Cannon made a similar comment about moving forward.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said the city has been in a complex chess game for the past 25 years and has followed staff’s lead. She said this may not be the checkmate everyone wanted, but it’s time to move forward.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren asked what would happen if there was an accident interrupting rail traffic now. Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said it would be under CP’s insurance. He added that since staff have had more time to work on the construction agreement, there has been an extensive amount of engineering done to help minimize risk, as well as the addition of real-time monitoring of track settlement.

Read more: Projected cost of Salon Arm’s Ross Street underpass goes up by $3.5 million

Read more: Next for Salmon Arm underpass: build new tracks to avoid construction area

Mayor Alan Harrison said CP is the city’s partner and the project is now at a tipping point.

He said risk will exist as it’s an active railway and 25 trains a day will be going through a construction site.

The options would be to continue to negotiate with little hope of a different outcome, to break off negotiations and go to the Canadian Transport Authority – which could delay the project for two years, or abandon the project.

Harrison concluded there’s risk with anything, and “I think we’ve mitigated the risk the very best we can for taxpayers.”

He said signing the agreement will mean the project can proceed to tender with construction starting in the spring.

The 2020 budget lists $15.7 million for the underpass, which includes $1 million from CP plus a grant of $500,000 that CP applied for on the city’s behalf.

“Additionally, CP is completing the hotbox detector relocation works at their cost and has removed the city’s reponsibility for fiber relocation costs,” states the staff report.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benjamin Cashion, left, the first baby born at Shuswap Lake General Hospital in 2021, is already taking to his older brother Liam. (Submitted)
Newcomers to Shuswap welcome Salmon Arm hospital’s first baby of 2021

The Cashion family’s newest son Benjamin was born on Jan. 8.

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

(Photo: Pixabay)
Enderby chamber proposes new rural e-business training program

The program would help rural-area businesses expand using online tools and insights

Signs in Homer, Alaska, offer inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Armstrong-Homer News)
COLUMN: COVID-19 pandemic hits home

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

With bridge construction well underway on the project to replace the Solsqua-Sicamous bridge. Motorists should expect delays of up to half an hour. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Pedestrian path would connect Solsqua-Sicamous bridge to community

District of Sicamous staff say bridge replacement project on tight schedule

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Most Read