Environmental work on Fitzsimmons Creek up for grabs 

Annual sediment removal to prevent flooding needs environmental eye

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED BY CASCADE ENVIRONMENTAL - up for grabs The RMOW is setting up for a competitive bidding process for gravel removal at Fitzsimmons Creek.
  • photo submitted by cascade environmental
  • up for grabs The RMOW is setting up for a competitive bidding process for gravel removal at Fitzsimmons Creek.

The municipality is setting up a competitive bidding process for the environmental monitoring of gravel removal at Fitzsimmons Creek.

For years, the Fitzsimmons Creek monitoring work, which typically has a budget of under $25,000, has been granted to Cascade Environmental Resource Group, as allowed under local government law.

Dave Williamson, principal consultant of Cascade Environmental Resource Group, confirmed this week that he will now be bidding on the 2014 work, which is going through a public bidding process this year for the first time.

"Basically we've been doing it for over 20 years," said Williamson, who put together the Environmental Management Plan for the Fitzsimmons Creek, which had a major flood event in 1991.

"As a taxpayer, yes, you want to make sure that the cost of things is competitive," he said of the change, but added that it is a time consuming process and, "...even a great success rate is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent success."

When asked why the environmental monitoring is going through a competitive bid process this year, when the municipality has awarded the contract at its discretion for years, the communications department said in an email: "The department decided to open up the program to other potential environmental consultants."

Since it took office almost three years ago, council has lasered in on fiscal accountability at the hall, trimming fat and delivering three years of zero tax increases.

The municipality, however, can award contracts up to $25,000 as it sees fit; anything over that amount goes out to bid.

The Fitzsimmons Creek is an annual concern for Whistler.

In the Five Year Financial Plan, more than $1.3 million will go towards the project, which includes removing deposited sediment annually to maintain flood protection levels.

This year sees a budget of $270,000 for the work; environmental monitoring is a portion of that work.

Among other things, the environmental monitoring team will work with the municipality to review the extraction areas, monitor water quality, work on fish salvage to capture, record and relocate any fish from gravel extraction areas and ensure any hazardous materials used by the equipment or vehicles are properly used and disposed of. They will also be asked to prepare a final report.

As for saving taxpayers money, Williamson said that could be a double-edge sword. Last year, Cascade came in under budget for the Fitzsimmons Creek work, billing only for its services. He estimates savings between $2,000 and $6,000. Under the RFP, the consultants will be awarded the contract for a set amount of money; whether it comes in under or over budget won't impact the municipality's bottom line.

The municipality has applied to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Environment for permission to do the gravel works. That permission, if granted, is not expected before mid-September.

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