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Costs rise for Snug Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades

Savings found on Bowen Island Trunk Road storm sewer repairs to avoid overall budget increase
Snug Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant
Exterior of the Snug Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant

The full costs of completing construction work on the Snug Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant have been tallied, and the final total has landed higher than the original estimate.

Council heard last week it will now cost $1,838,442 to perform upgrades to the plant (WWTP), up nearly $200,000 from the budgeted amount for 2022 of $1,640,000.

“Some elements of the project had rapidly escalating costs,” said director of engineering Patrick Graham during the June 13 meeting, explaining why today’s number is higher than the original estimate. He says these included quickly changing quotes, issues securing contractors and materials, and the overall length of the project.

“Initially the escalation was substantially more and we’ve made some efforts to bring that down, including taking some of the work on - such as upfront earth work and rock wall construction - with BIM as general contractor, and also procuring some of the key equipment directly,” added Graham.

The increased costs, totalling $198,442 exactly, will be covered using the same payment breakdown council approved for the project earlier this year: 44 per cent from Snug Cove sewer users, and 56 per cent from residents outside the local service area (LSA), since the WWTP upgrades were determined to be of island-wide significance.

For Snug Cove sewer users to cover their additional $87,314 bill, chief financial officer Kristen Watson says the new parcel tax established for their LSA this year will likely run for the next eight years now, instead of seven. This would be made official in a future bylaw change. The rest of Bowen will pay the other $111,128.

The prior estimate for each group was $921,323 for island-wide owners and $718,677 for the Snug Cove LSA. The new total puts the island-wide share over the million mark at $1,032,451, and the Snug Cove LSA share at $805,991.  

Municipality will tackle storm sewer project 

But despite the increased WWTP costs, savings were found elsewhere to avoid increasing the overall budget. The Bowen Island Trunk Road storm sewer repair capital project is reducing its costs by $200,000 by deciding to avoid putting the job out for tender, and instead having the municipality (BIM) perform the work themselves.

“There is a real willingness and a real excitement about this direction. And it is a very good capacity building opportunity,” said Graham of the decision to have BIM take on the task, though he did acknowledge this may have an impact on other projects the municipal crew would normally be working on.

The storm sewer project became more urgent last week when a sinkhole was discovered under the road, forcing the closure of much of the westbound curb lane until repairs can begin in July.

“I like the idea of BIM staff being more involved in the project as it goes along,” said Coun. Sue Ellen Fast of the municipality handling the storm sewer job. “I think that’s better for the long run in terms of understanding the system and being able to answer questions or problems as they come up.”

Chandos, the construction company performing the WWTP upgrades, estimates their work will be completed sometime in December. The long-awaited hookups to the system likely won’t take place until the new year though.

“I don’t think it will be a Christmas present – maybe a late Christmas present – because we have to complete the Phase 1 upgrades and then assess where we’re at,” says Graham, predicting a Spring connection date for those properties currently waiting on the WWTP.

Council voted in favour of five different motions to proceed with the new costs: including approving a contract with Chandos worth $1,224,316 plus GST, an additional $143,067 plus GST to Urban Systems for design work, and approval of the additional $198,442 for the project.

All councillors (minus Coun. Rob Wynen who was absent) voted for each motion except for Coun. Alison Morse, who voted against every motion related to increasing upgrade costs. Morse did join council in voting for Snug Cove users to pay the adjusted amount based on the 56/44 per cent island-wide/LSA split.