Contractors should have to pay for Grandin delays

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I recently moved back to St. Albert, on Grandin Road. We already have great neighbours because we moved back to the house where I grew up. We are proud to tell people we live in St. Albert. A lot has changed since I grew up here, but one thing remains – the longstanding construction project on Grandin Road.

One morning this week I decided to drive down Grandin Road because it seemed like the logical choice, given where I was going. It was like being on an obstacle course on a dirt road in the country. It feels a little like déjà vu because I wrote a letter to the editor last fall about the same subject. Who knew the project would still not be complete in 2018. Why is it taking so long? I don’t claim to be privy to city council’s business practices, but I’m not entirely confident that the city is penalizing the company for not getting the project completed in a timely fashion.

The large city just to the south of us penalizes contractors for not having a project completed on time, so why didn’t our city think to have that written into this project’s contract? Do you remember Walterdale Bridge? From what I understand, as posted on the internet, the construction company was given two fines – a per day site occupancy fine, as well as a per-day administration costs fine. Well, in this case the site being occupied is Grandin Road, albeit, only a portion each year. Did I write that correctly? EACH YEAR?? This company has so many projects on the go, why would it care about inconveniencing the people of Grandin Road? Granted, the company may not have enough employees to do the jobs it takes on, but then why would it take on so many jobs?

I wonder if the project would be sped up if it was on a city councillor’s street. Taxpaying citizens, including senior citizens, don’t have access to their driveways, and therefore have to park quite a distance from their home … something a senior shouldn’t have to do. When minutes count, I’d hate to see what would happen if an ambulance couldn’t get access to somebody’s property … there’s that déjà vu again.

Last year, I asked a city staff member if the inconvenienced taxpayers will get some sort of property tax rebate because, after all, it is the access to their property that is the issue. The answer was a flat-out no. It seems we are being held hostage by the construction company, but it really is the city’s fault for hiring a sub-par contractor.

Don’t get me wrong, the workers are friendly and will accommodate any special needs; but it’s just not acceptable that we should have to be inconvenienced for this long. I hope the city has learned to not hire this particular company again. Stay tuned, Grandinites; let’s cross our fingers that the project will be complete in 2019.

Ellen Ainsley, St. Albert

 

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