City hall is up in arms over skyrocketing costs for the Connecting Link and the price of asphalt. This comes after news broke that work on phase one of the reconstruction is being cut almost in half because of the high prices. Councillor Rick Dubeau is now looking for answers as to why 2.5 kilometres of work was approved, but only 1.4 kilometres is going to get done. He says the city is paying almost $200 per tonne of asphalt, where other areas pay around $100. He says it’s almost double, and those numbers don’t make any sense. Dubeau is pointing his finger at the construction company doing the work, saying they have a monopoly and they are holding the city hostage.
However, Mayor Steve Black says there isn’t much the city can do when they only get one bid for the work. He says they didn’t stop anyone from bidding, but at the same time, they can’t force others to compete. He says if anybody wanted to compete on the contract, they had the option. Black says short of turning down the provincial funding for this phase of the project, there wasn’t a stance for the city to take. He says council voted yes on upgrades like bike lanes and lights, which affected the length of work that was able to be completed.
Councillor Noella Rinaldo echoed those thoughts, saying these concerns coming up now are making her question what meeting some councillors were at. She says they sat around the council table, and decided they wanted upgrades like the street lights and paved bike lanes. She says based on what the city has to spend, that’s what they are going to get, and they can’t keep flip-flopping. Rinaldo also points out Luc Duval, the Director of Public Works, made it clear he preferred the road to be longer rather than installing additional lights and bike lanes. But, Rinaldo says he did what council asked him to.
Dubeau countered by saying his main issue stems from the price of asphalt to do the work, which is driving up the overall cost of the project. He says the contractor gets a lot of work from the city, and they are overcharging because of a monopoly.