‘Good business’: Midland OKs four 2023 capital project budgets

Market spike prompts town to get tenders early for materials and equipment on Queen St. reconstruction, radio meter upgrades, trucks and garden beds

If you see the potholes in the road up ahead, then you have a good chance of avoiding them.

The Town of Midland’s engineering manager, Mitch Sobil, provided an update at a special meeting of Midland council on the anticipated costs of unavoidable capital projects for next year, with a staff request that pre-approval be granted to stay ahead of anticipated difficulties.

“A lot of it’s been driven by the market and the uncertainty we’ve seen since the pandemic started,” said Sobil.

Four capital projects were planned for 2023 as part of the 10-year capital budget:

  • Queen Street reconstruction between Hugel Avenue and Elizabeth Street is expected to cost around $1.8 million;
  • Radio meter upgrades to replace roughly 1,500 of town water meters was budgeted for $850,000;
  • Replacement of multi-season operations trucks are expected to cost roughly $600,000; and
  • Reconstruction of garden beds and stairs in Little Lake Park was approximately $415,000.

Staff anticipated that costs would be over-budget with minimal tenders filed based on past experience with prior town projects.

“For one, for instance, the Queen Street reconstruction,” Sobil explained. “That is a full on reconstruction project. We saw this last year through the budget process when we did the Balm Beach Road and the Seventh Street reconstruction budgets.

“We tendered them – Balm Beach Road a little earlier than normal – we received a decent amount of bidders and the price was in line with what we typically see,” said Sobil.

“Seventh Street was tendered at a very normal, acceptable time to normally tender in February, and we only saw one bid and it was over budget; and it’s been across the board with all municipalities,” said Sobil.

Through pre-approval, staff would post tenders to market which would “retain competent contractors and vendors, receive accurate market value bids, and receive materials, equipment and services in a timely manner.”

Coun. Bill Gordon supported the pre-approval, calling the justification “good business sense.” In the case of the stairwells and garden bed retaining walls of Little Lake Park, he proposed advertising smaller might be more interesting than bigger.

“We do have some fine masonry people, and very able-bodied folks in our community who would probably love to bid on this,” said Gordon. “I think this is something that could build a lot of community pride.”

Mayor Stewart Strathearn asked if Andy Campbell, executive director of environment and infrastructure, cared to comment on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) regarding the town procurement policies.

“If you know some contractors that are small that might not normally bid through our process,” replied Campbell, “have them contact us as we go through this and we’ll see how we can accommodate them.

“Going through the online process is a requirement. I don’t think it’s that complicated, but we can help a smaller bidder to understand the system and participate.”

Coun. Jonathan Main and Jim Downer both said they supported the request prior to council’s approval. Downer and Mayor Stewart Strathearn called it good planning.

A mid-year capital review report is expected to appear in an upcoming council agenda for further 2023 projects not listed in the pre-approval request.

Information on the procurement bylaw as well as how to become a part of the procurement process can be found on the bid opportunities page of the Town of Midland website.

The pre-approval list of 2023 capital projects, including further details and a complete cost breakdown, is available in full in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be attended in person or virtually through Zoom by contacting the clerk’s department of Midland town hall for a link to the meeting.

Council meetings can also be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

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