Council quiet on P3 cost breakdown 

Staff assures half of $1.3 million can be used

$1.3 million to bury a P3? Photo by Maureen Provencal
  • $1.3 million to bury a P3? Photo by Maureen Provencal

Van Powel wants to know what council is going to do with the knowledge that it cost $1.3 million to pursue the now-abandoned public-private partnership for the sewage plant upgrade.

"What are the ramifications?" asked Powel this week.

"How does council feel about this amount of taxpayers’ money being really squandered since we still haven’t got a shovel in the ground (more than) two years later?

Council members were mum on the issue when the costs were presented in a staff report at Monday’s council meeting.

Only Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who like Powel has been asking staff for a detailed cost breakdown, spoke to the issue briefly and that was to say she would reserve comments for the lessons learned session council has planned for September.

Contacted later about the $1.3 million cost Wilhelm-Morden said: "I have a lot of things to say about that but I’m going to say them behind closed doors."

Asked to comment on the costs after the meeting Mayor Ken Melamed said it was a high number but the good news is that staff believes 50 per cent of the work done will be transferable to the work now underway – work that will be done the traditional method with the municipality contracting out the design, getting companies to bid on the construction and then hiring a contractor, the so-called DBB (design-bid-build) approach.

That means the much-needed sewage plant upgrades, which should have been complete by 2005, will now be done by spring 2009, according to the revised timeline.

Every month of delay increases the budget by as much as $250,000, according to a municipal newspaper ad in early June, because of the escalating costs of construction.

Meanwhile the sewage odour continues to blanket Function Junction at the entrance to Whistler and some days, particularly the busiest days over Christmas, the resort is violating its environmental standards, discharging an excess of suspended solids into the Cheakamus River.

"It’s fair to say we would have preferred that it be completed already," said the mayor.

"(This timeline) still meets our desire to have it complete before the Olympics."

But at what cost?

Monday’s report to council did not include cost estimates of the project using the DBB route.

Whistler’s general manager of engineering and public works, Brian Barnett, said the DBB is millions of dollars more costly than what was expected.

Wilhelm-Morden took exception to that comment at the meeting, essentially saying there is no evidence to back it up.

The so-called "shadow bid" for the P3 is just an example, said the councillor, with no real numbers attached to it.

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