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Holyrood delays water line project to aid Bay Roberts’ Summer Games’ prep

By Craig Westcott

Holyrood council has agreed to allow a contractor to delay work on an important project so that he can help the Town of Bay Roberts make sure it’s ready in time to host the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games instead.

The situation was made clear in a letter from Frank Maher of Maher’s Contracting to the Town of Holyrood, which Mayor Gary Goobie read out for the benefit of the public at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Maher asked council to defer the start date on the Salmonier Line water supply project from April 15, when it was supposed to begin, to July 22.

“Our request to defer is a result of a request from a neighboring community, the Town of Bay Roberts, that we start their water line job as soon as possible,” Maher wrote. “As you are aware, the Town of Bay Roberts is playing host to the provincial Summer Games during August 10 to the 17th. In an effort of cooperation with the Town of Bay Roberts, and essentially the Province, we agreed to start their project first to ensure we complete all road excavation work prior to the start of the games in an effort to reduce frustrations with infrastructure work on a busy street. If our request is approved, you have my word by this letter that we will begin your project on or before July 22, 2024. We’ve had a great working relationship with the Town previously on the installation of your new soccer pitch and I anticipate this summer’s project will be no different. I will add deferring your job until July leaves adequate time to install the water line and have asphalt completed before winter temperatures set in. All material required to execute this work has been procured and is sitting in Wolseley’s yard in St. John’s. I await your decision and thank you in advance for your consideration.”

Mayor Gary Goobie asked council’s infrastructure committee chairman, Steve Windsor, for his take on the request.

Windsor said under normal circumstances he is a stickler when it comes to the terms of a contract and project deadlines.

“However, that being said, we are good community partners with our neighbouring communities and also the province,” added Windsor. “This is a very important event for that community and the province. Also, this particular contractor has a very good track record performing work in our community and for other communities. So, we take him at his word and my recommendation is to accept that, and I think we should also update our contract to the date that he is requesting. I have no issue with it. As stated, the project can be completed during the summer months, no problem from my perspective.”

Goobie said he concurred with Windsor’s assessment.

“It is a neighbouring community, a neighbouring partner and given the fact that they’ve got a very important event with the provincial Summer Games and there’s going to be a lot of people visiting the town of Bay Roberts, I’m sure the Town would like to have as much of this work done to make things run as smooth as possible,” said the mayor. “We’re only dealing with a few months delay here, so I think that’s acceptable… And we certainly wish the Town of Bay Roberts the very best and much success with the provincial Summer Games coming up this summer.”

On a related note, council also agreed Tuesday to delay the construction of the new water tower that was awarded funding from the Province last year.

Windsor said the Town’s staff, consultants and officials from the provincial government have been discussing the best way to tackle the project.

“There is some challenging infrastructure there, the civil (engineering) work that needs to be done, the topography,” said the councillor. “We do need to do a site plan, and we’re not getting that done by June 2024. We all know that. So, that’s going to go out to the fall of 2025. I think that is quite reasonable given where we are right now in the details with the engineering firm, and Municipal Affairs most importantly, because they’re the funding mechanism.”

The delay necessitated an amendment to a previous motion of council, which Windsor proposed and council passed unanimously. 

The amendment cited the need for a new site plan that will eliminate the need for booster pumps for the tank, as well as the need for more time so that engineers can figure out how the new piping will work with the existing infrastructure in the area. 

Council earlier this winter split the water tank project into two components, one contract for the civil work, the other for the mechanical. 

“I think you’ve explained that very well, councillor Windsor,” said Mayor Goobie. “There is a lot of money involved here, it’s cost-shared funding, we’re working with Municipal Affairs, we’re working with engineers, we want to ensure, as you say, that we get it right when these projects are done, not for the sake of expediency, and any time you’re spending significant amounts of money on major infrastructure we want to ensure it’s done efficiently and effectively. If it means a delay, well I think in the long run we’re much better off.”

Windsor agreed. “The majority of the funding is from the Province, it’s not residents of Holyrood’s taxes, but it’s still taxpayers’ money,” he said. “And I do not want to be wastefully spending taxpayers’ money unless it’s providing value.”

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