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Lack of public consultation for Vernon road project could cost the city

April 11, 2016 - 4:30 PM

VERNON - Vernon council might swallow a $100,000 loss after concerns have arisen about a business not being notified of a road construction project until mere days before the work was set to start.

Council voted to put the brakes on a road and utility construction project on 32 Avenue from 27 Street to 29 Street during a meeting today, April 11 — the same day the work was supposed to get underway. 

Local businesses were invited to an open house about the project last year, but the original start date was delayed, Coun. Brian Quiring says. The project was rescheduled to begin this week, but that came as a surprise to affected business owners.

“It appears that letters went out just days before the construction was going to start,” Quiring says. 

Notification letters were sent on April 7, and consultation occurred April 8. 

“I don’t think they were really fairly notified, and I just think it’s one of those cases where we have to do the right thing and lessen the impact,” Quiring said. 

Delaying the work could mean a hit of as much as $100,000, infrastructure engineer Mark Dowhaniuk told council. Staff will review the full financial and legal implications of delaying the project and report back to council at a special meeting this Friday, April 15. At that point, council will decide whether to delay the project until July or continue as planned. Delaying the start date until mid-July would reduce the impact on an affected nursery and landscape business, which is busiest over the next couple of months, and minimize traffic impacts on Beairsto Elementary School, which by that time would be closed for the summer, Quiring says, adding it would be a 'nightmare' if the work began now. 

In addition to delaying the project, Coun. Scott Anderson wants to know what will be done to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

“The open house was held on Friday, the project set to start on Monday. It’s not optimal,” Anderson says.

Dowhaniuk says an improvement would be sending a letter to every affected property as soon as budget approval is granted, informing them construction will be happening at some point in the future and to expect more details.

While it would mean taking a financial hit, Anderson says it’s important to delay the project and show support for local businesses.

“I think the message it sends is very negative if we don’t support this one business — and it’s not just one business,” Anderson says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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