Valley Trail construction climbs over $1 million 

Costs to build the new Spring Creek Valley Trail have been pushed over $1 million, following a vote by council on Tuesday night.

David Patterson, manager of parks and village operations for the municipality, told Whistler council on Tuesday night that new estimates peg construction at $77,000 over budget.

The project will see the final stretch of Valley Trail laid in Whistler. The network will then connect Cheakamus Crossing in the south with Emerald Estates in the north. From Spring Creek, the trail will follow a single track into the Interpretive Forest parking lot and through to Cheakamus Crossing.

"It is a challenge, to say the least," said Patterson about the Spring Creek route. "Being a challenge, it is going to cost a fair bit of money to put in."

His request for an extra $77,000 was met with frustration by council members, with many of them trying to whittle the price back down. Among options thrown out were not paving the trail, increasing the minimum grade to 10 per cent or not installing lights.

But in the end though only two councillors - Eckhard Zeidler and Ralph Forsyth - voted against the increase, which brings the total cost for the project to $1.04 million.

"It has been a while now since anyone has stood before us with a project that has gone over projections," said Zeidler. "There have been tremendous sacrifices on the part of staff to make sure no one has had to come up here with a project that is over budget. I won't be supporting it."

The extra $77,000 will not dip into the 10 per cent contingency that the municipality has set aside for the project, however.

The municipality has awarded the first leg of construction to Coastal Mountain Excavation Ltd for $650,000. Seven proposals were submitted. Alpine Paving Ltd. will work as a subcontractor to provide the asphalt.

Councillor Ted Milner voted for the cost increase, saying he was worried about council nitpicking the project to death.

"Cheakamus Crossing, our new neighbourhood, our Olympic legacy," said Milner. "If you are going to do it, do it right. Everyone is worried over a budget of $50,000 in our budget of $50 million."

Added councilor Chris Quinlan: "We have had an issue with residents at Spring Creek being able to safely access Function Junction.

"I think, especially in the winter time, we need to do what we can to get a safe method for people," he said.  "It has been along time coming."



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