At a Woodlands County Council meeting earlier this month, the council approved a drainage improvement project in the Horne Road area. “WSP Engineering was entrusted with the creation of the drainage plan, the invitation to tender and the award recommendations for the project,” said Infrastructure Director Andre Bachand. “Two bids came in, and the low bid was from Westcore Contracting Inc. for $ 199,885 plus tax.”

Woodlands County received a provincial grant of over half a million dollars to complete these types of projects. Mayor John Burrows asked how hooked Woodlands County would be for that. “This project is all financed from the state grant,” replied Bachand. Councilor Bruce Prestidge wondered what would happen to the remaining funds from the grant. “This is phase 1. The next phase is road improvements that are coming soon. A prerequisite for funding is that all funds are spent in 2021. So there is still another phase ahead, ”said Bachand.

Councilor Govenlock moved to accept the administration’s recommendation and transfer the project to Westcore Contracting Ltd. to forgive, which was passed unanimously. The second application in the same dossier was the granting of a ten percent contingency for the project, which was also accepted. The third motion, however, related to technical costs, and Councilor Govenlock was uncomfortable with the current lineup.

“Engineering costs for the community have been a problem for a number of years, and submitting this application is kind of open-ended to me. I wonder if we can add some conditions to the engineering fee approval, which means there may be a reluctance after the project is complete to ensure that the project’s expectations match the county’s expectations. ”

Bachand mentioned that this type of change needs to be done before the start of a project, not in the middle. “If the council wanted to introduce such a condition, we would have to determine this before hiring engineers so that they would be aware of it. This project is a simple drainage program; Water runs downhill. I don’t see a big problem in this project, but in the future we can set this as a condition in advance. ”

Satisfied with this, Councilor Govenlock and the rest of Woodlands County Council approved the final motion to pay WSP Engineering fees totaling $ 54,311.00. After the vote, he raised the issue again in the hope of bringing about a change. “Before we get into the subject of this particular engineering project, the concerns I have raised about the engineering services the county has received in the past, and the comments Infrastructure Director Andre Bachand has made regarding the reluctance to carry out these engineering bills, we ask that that we include a holdback as part of the engineering service contract before further applications for engineering services, ”said City Councilor Govenlock.

Bachand said that typical retention periods for construction projects are 45 days after completion and that if the council so desired, something similar could be implemented for future engineering services. Mayor Burrows asked if the change would add to the county’s costs. “It’s possible. It all depends on the size of the project and the type. Typically, I don’t see much of an impact from the type of projects the county has been doing lately.”

Councilor Dave Kusch asked if the move could limit the number of engineers available to the county. “I don’t think so,” began Bachand. “They would take this into account when putting their proposals together, and if they had to take that back they would just include it in their price.” He added that engineering and construction services would be billed monthly after the work was completed and that withholdings would be ten percent of the monthly bills. “If the council so wishes, we would do the typical retention contracts, and that’s probably ten percent with a 45-day ban.”

Mayor Burrows said he wanted more information before deciding one way or the other. “My problem is that I don’t really want to do this on the spur of the moment. I would like the administration to put this together as a recommendation for the next meeting, and then we can discuss it a little more. It’s a bit fast at the moment. ”

Bachand said the council could instruct the administration to work out a policy and bring it back to an upcoming council meeting for discussion. Councilor Govenlock agreed. “I ask the council to instruct the administration to review the tendering process to include ten percent or some form of reluctance for both engineering and construction work and bring it back to the council as soon as possible.” The subsequent vote was unanimous.