Town council, on its second try, has approved project costs it can live with for reconstruction of Fourth Avenue.
At a a meeting Aug. 2, Ladysmith council voted to increase the budget for the first phase of the project by $450,000 and award the $2.27-million contract to Nanaimo’s Hazelwood Construction Service.
Phase 1 is to include the portion of Fourth Avenue from Root Street north to White Street. This was the second kick at the can for this this as the tenders coming in the first time were way over what the town had budgeted. The tendering documents were re-written to allow for a longer construction time in hopes that ensuing quotes would come in less. The recommendation from staff was that the town amend its financial plan to increase the project cost and award the contract to the low bidder, Hazelwood.
The recommendation created some discussion centred on awarding tenders. The second-highest bidder was Ladysmith’s David Stalker Excavating Ltd., with a bid $18,000 higher than the winning bid.
Coun. Duck Paterson stressed the importance, in his opinion, of supporting local companies that support the community and pay taxes locally. There was some agreement around the council table, but other councillors expressed that it’s taxpayers dollars they are dealing with and those interests have to be front and centre.
The city manager, in response to questions from Coun. Jeff Virtanen, said that the town is obligated to follow guidelines on any project over $200,000. Virtanen calculated that the difference in the top two bids was less than one per cent and said even though he didn’t agree with the recommendation, he would vote in favour of it.
Mayor Aaron Stone suggested that council members held similar opinions on the matter, but added the town is governed by some fairly restrictive outside measures and straying from guidelines could potentially put the town in a serious legal and financial position.
The motion to grant the tender to the low bidder was moved with Paterson voting against.
Council approved a development permit application for 201 Dogwood Drive, a property referred to as Dalby’s Garage. The application was for a 25-unit multi-family building with a commercial component on the ground floor. Staff recommended the issuance of the permit subject to the applicants supplying a $66,000 landscaping bond and council voted unanimously to approve the application.
The Town of Ladysmith’s fees and charges bylaw was on the agenda for the first three readings to update various categories where staff have reviewed existing fees and feel updates are necessary to cover costs to the municipality and to reduce the reliance on taxation to subsidize operations. The motion for the three reading was passed unanimously.
The amended sign and canopy bylaw was next on the agenda, and it had already passed three readings. The amendments are an effort to help speed up the application process as well as refine the sandwich boards category. The motion to adopt was passed with Coun. Rob Johnson opposed.
Also at the meeting, councillors were presented a the proposed schedule for budget discussions for the 2023-27 financial plan. Town staff have proposed a schedule of Sept. 6, Oct. 25, Nov. 15 and Dec. 6 for the presentation of the various operating and capital budgets. Staff also recommended a meeting Dec. 20 for early budget approvals and anticipated water and sewer rate bylaws. Johnson asked that all department heads be present when the various sections budgets are being discussed; Stone replied that has been the practice in the past and will continue.
The motion to adopt the schedule was passed unanimously.
Council approved a few other expenditures.
The Ladysmith Seniors Society asked for a donation of $2,000 to help cover the costs of re-covering the chairs at their centre, the Lions Club asked that the town waive one-third of pool rental, about $700, for swim sessions, and the Rotary Clubs of Ladysmith and Chemainus requested the town sponsor a hole at a Sept. 17 fundraiser golf tournament at a cost of $350.
Stone proclaimed that September will be ‘Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month’ in Ladysmith. Town staff will illuminate the various lighting locations with the red and blue theme on Sept. 8 and 14.