Coun­cil votes to move ahead

Phase 3 ap­proved, but not with­out op­po­si­tion from three coun­cil­lors an­gry about costs

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - JA­SON MILLER

City coun­cil has ap­proved $13.3 mil­lion to com­plete the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of down­town.

Three coun­cil­lors weren’t down with the plan.

Coun. Mitch Pan­ciuk said the ex­pen­di­ture ex­ceeded the $21 mil­lion that tax­pay­ers were told they would pay.

“Those num­bers started to change dras­ti­cally,” he said, of spend­ing on down­town over the three phases.

He said coun­cil voted down his call for a re­port de­tail­ing what could be changed to bring all the work in on the orig­i­nal cost­ing.

That mo­tions failed,” said Pan­ciuk.

His col­leagues also didn’t take the time to find other fund­ing op­tions, Pan­ciuk claimed.

“That mo­tion also failed,” he said. “To­day we have a project that is go­ing to be ap­prox­i­mately $14 mil­lion or 66.6 per cent over bud­get. I can­not sup­port that.”

He said while hear­ing noth­ing but good feed­back about the work done by Cor­co­ran Ex­ca­vat­ing Lim­ited in the pre­vi­ous two phases, he’s not pleased they were the sole bid­der on phase three.

“I’m con­cerned we only had one com­pany pro­vide a bid on this work but I’m not sur­prised,” said Pan­ciuk.

He said sav­ings from other un­der­bud­get Build Belleville pro­jects will not off­set spend­ing on down­town.

Staff have been say­ing they weren’t ex­pect­ing a flood of bids and would be happy to get four. Things turned out a bit worse.

Mayor Taso Christo­pher was quick to pro­vide clar­ity.

He said there aren’t enough con­trac­tors with ex­per­tise in down­town pro­jects to take on avail­able jobs. He said ur­ban cen­tres get more at­ten­tion from con­trac­tors.

“They can­not find peo­ple to work at these jobs,” he said. “If they had the man­power and the time then they would en­ter­tain com­ing down here.

“Staff have been telling you that,” said Christo­pher. “If you like to have se­lec­tive read­ing, I’m not sure.”

Coun­cil of the day es­tab­lished the bud­get, the mayor said.

“Staff gave you and es­ti­mates and now the num­bers are be­fore you,” he said, speak­ing staff forecasting a bud­get of about $12.2 mil­lion for phase three after cal­cu­la­tions done last year.

The mayor called out Pan­ciuk on tak­ing a shot at Cor­co­ran be­ing the suc­cess­ful com­pany for the third time.

“I’m re­ally not sure that in­nu­endo means,” Christo­pher.

Coun. Kelly McCaw and Paul Carr also voted against bud­get.

“It wasn’t un­til the last year that we got a true fig­ure,” said Carr.

Coun­cil should have been more forth­right, he added.

“What the right thing to do is, if it’s go­ing to cost $34 mil­lion, put that fig­ure up front, so the tax­pay­ers knows ex­actly what they’re pay­ing,” said Carr. what said

Back in 2014, be­fore coun­cil had de­cided to break it into three phases, staff had ten­dered the project as a whole and re­lieved a bid for $34 mil­lion

The for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and gen­eral man­ager of the Quinte Bal­let School is tak­ing the reigns of the BDIA.

Mar­i­lyn Lawrie was pre­sented to coun­cil Mon­day.

“The time is right,” she said coun­cil. “We’re go­ing to move it ahead.”

Lawrie will now lead the charge to im­prove down­town’s im­age and fill more than two dozen va­can­cies in the core.

She talked about com­mu­ni­cat­ing more ef­fec­tive with the mem­ber­ship, con­stantly re­fresh­ing the web­site and work­ing on get­ting more out of the bud­get.

Her po­si­tion is part-time but Lawrie vowed to work smart, fast and work with the team to ex­e­cute.

Va­can­cies, gov­er­nance woes and a re­cent flood of board res­ig­na­tions aside, Lawrie said the ship is get­ting back on track.

“It is ab­so­lutely not a sink­ing ship,” she said. It has un­der­gone a lot of tran­si­tion with staff and with board. I know I can help make a dif­fer­ence.”

Lawrie who con­cluded a fouryear con­tract with the bal­let school last fall said she’s primed for han­dling pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

“I make things hap­pen,” she said.

As to her stint with the bal­let school.

“I guess I could have stayed on, but it was time for some­thing new,” said Lawrie.

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