Council concerned about oversize load corridor costs

NOVA Chemicals heavy haul August 2019 (File photo)

Sarnia council has agreed to contribute its original pledge of $4.7 million to the oversize load corridor project after questioning officials about rising cost.

The project is estimated to cost $18,950,000 once a $2 million contribution from Bluewater Power is factored in — up from the 2015 estimate of $12 million.

Councillor Mike Stark challenged the utility’s offering.

“You do realize that the City of Sarnia owns 86 per cent of Bluewater Power,” said Stark. “So, effectively the City of Sarnia is contributing 86 per cent of that $2 million dollar gift. I just want the citizens of Sarnia to know that we’re in this, and we’re in it deep.”

Bluewater Power’s Oversize Load Corridor Project Manager Brad Gray said the cost of electrical improvements in the city is now estimated at $6 million — up from the original estimate of $2 million.

“From my perspective, the estimate was low, plain and simple, it was low,” said Gray.

Gray said the utility wants to credit the project $2 million because it recognizes the benefit in improving its aging infrastructure.

Councillor Stark also questioned the total cost of the project.

“Are we going to see you back here a year from now with revised numbers,” Stark asked. “My attitude is that once you get into a project like this, you can’t back out. It’s like being a little bit pregnant, there’s no such thing. So, you got to understand once we’re into this, and we’re into it now, we need very tight controls from this point forward in terms of estimates we receive.”

Project Coordinator Lyle Johnson said the full scope will be better defined once the cost of the dock, the largest component of the project, is known.

Vendor evaluations for its detailed engineering are now underway.

Sarnia council directed staff to proceed with the full scope of the project based on the revised total and city contribution Monday night.