Council nixes hiring project manager for park and ride – for now
Updated report will come back to council in 2014 to address costs, process
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
City council shut down – for now – the idea of hiring a project manager to shepherd the proposed South Campbell Park and Ride through the development process.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, council defeated a motion authorizing administration to retain the services of such a manager in a 2-4 vote. Council was unanimously in favour of having a report come back to council with updated construction cost estimates, financing options and the status of land lease negotiations by the second quarter of 2014.
“Until we’re 100 per cent sure we’re going to construct this park and ride … I hesitate to hire a project manager for a project that might not go ahead,” said Coun. Cathy Heron.
Couns. Heron, Malcom Parker, Roger Lemieux and Mayor Nolan Crouse voted against the motion to authorize the hiring. Couns. Wes Brodhead and Len Bracko voted in favour of the motion, and Coun. Cam MacKay was absent from the meeting.
Council moved the report and the votes until after an in camera session dealing with a land matter that Crouse said was related. Council went back in camera immediately after coming out, as Bracko wanted the chance to express his opinion on the land matter freely, the details of which council voted to keep confidential. Crouse was the lone vote against going back into in camera.
Glenn Tompolski, general manager of infrastructure services, said administration is exploring options to bring the current estimated cost of $37,151,350 to build the project back down to the originally estimated $30-million.
“It is possible to phase in construction,” Tompolski said. The report noted a sublease negotiation between the City of Edmonton and the City of St. Albert is still in progress.
While the city has received confirmation of a GreenTRIP grant for two-thirds of the total project cost, the project does not appear to be eligible for a Regional Collaboration Grant, Tompolski said.
Administration suggested a special project manager be hired, using some of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative money set aside for the project, due to the complexity of the build. The complexity stems from the many players – two municipalities, and different branches at the City of Edmonton, two different provincial ministries as well as Epcor and Northwest Connect.
When Parker noted almost every capital project seems to come with a project manager request, Tompolski said they don’t have the resources in-house to manage this project.
Like Heron, Parker also questioned the practicality of hiring a project manager before the project is definitely going ahead. He wanted to see the second motion on the floor, which was to bring an updated report back to council, pass first.
Bracko, who voted in favour of hiring the special project manager, said hiring such a manager is nothing new for St. Albert when it comes to big projects.
“It’s important that we move quickly on (the project), the costs are going up,” Bracko said. Meanwhile, the mayor was concerned about where and when the $10-million of MSI money set aside for the project should be allocated. Tompolski said his best guess for the beginning of construction would be 2015, with operating costs, representing a total increase of $145,000 a year for transit centre operations and parking lot maintenance, starting in 2016.
City manager Patrick Draper told council that the report on a project update wouldn’t be as thorough without a project manager. Council also pushed the date back to the second quarter of 2014, instead of the first quarter as recommended by staff, for staff to prepare for the report.
“This is a report council needs to hear,” Brodhead said.
Crouse said he wanted to know more about how the operating costs will play out. He said he thinks the province needs to get more engaged in public transit as policy.
After council voted down the request to hire a project manager and voted for an updated project report to come to them in the second quarter of 2014, Heron raised a concern the project manager motion couldn’t come back again for another year. Council learned defeated motions can come back either after a year or after a municipal election, so the motion could return after Oct. 21.