Engineer selected

The Rossland main street upgrade is back on track after an engineer for the work was selected Monday.

During the March 28 council meeting, a split vote defeated a motion that the city should hire ISL Engineering to conduct phase one of the Washington-Columbia infrastructure upgrades but in a special meeting Monday, a reconsideration of the motion passed.

Councillors Andrew Stradling, Kathy Moore and Laurie Charlton originally voted against the motion to hire the company but did not necessarily object to ISL’s qualifications.

“While ISL may be a totally acceptable firm to do the job, staff did not provide us any information on what their reasoning was behind identifying ISL as the best proponent,” said Charlton.

Straddling made a further motion that staff provides council with more information on the bids of the top four companies in particular the costs, schedules and deliverability.

In response, councillors received a 200-page package later in the week outlining the phases, which seemed to do the trick.

At the special meeting Monday, council selected ISL as the engineering firm for the Columbia-Washington project, said corporate officer Tracey Butler.

The city can now proceed with the first phase of the project to look at options and alternatives to replacing the infrastructure and enable them to cash in on available government grants, she said.

“There are two steps to the first phase but at every phase it has to come back to council to say let’s continue until we find out how much it’s really going to cost,” she said.

Stradling and councillor Hanne Smith were absent from the special meeting and Moore voted with councillors Jill Spearn, Kathy Wallace and Mayor Greg Granstrom to pass the motion four to one, with Charlton opposed.

Despite Moore’s apparent flip-flop, her decision was one of expediency rather than satisfaction with staff procedure.

“What we got were four very qualified firms . . . but if you ask me why ISL over any of the others, I don’t know, I’d have to say, ‘you’ve got to check with staff on that.”

In all, 10 bids were submitted and short-listed to a final four. Only the bids of the four companies are known, from which staff recommended ISL with only a two per cent cost differential separating them.

“Staff was hired to get the information and make it available to council to make the decisions,” said Charlton. “Why go through this whole process if you were just going to leave it up to staff and just have council rubber stamp what’s put in front of them.”

According to administrator Victor Kumar, the request for qualifications (RFQ) process was legitimate and effective.

“We followed the procedure outlined in the agenda, it’s quite clear what the rules of the game are,” said Kumar.

RFQs do not require an actual budget but for public and council benefit projected costs were included.But confusion over procedure still remains among council.

“For me, I would have been fine with any on the four, I just wonder why staff recommended them (ISL),” said Moore. She also supported the motion to expedite major gas grant applications due at the end of April.

“There is a little time bomb in there . . . ISL will do a fine job and I want to get the application in there for the grant.”

Council has authorized up to $300,000 for the engineering but believe costs will be less. The administrator hopes to have studies done by summer so Phase 2 of the project can begin.