Streatch talking tender
Chebucto Road widening could be on agenda next week
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter
Thu. Jun 12 - 6:28 AM
A controversial road-widening tender defeated at council Tuesday might be back at city hall as early as next week.
On Tuesday, councillors were deadlocked 11-11 in a vote to award a $2-million tender to Basin Contracting to do the work at the intersection of Chebucto and Mumford roads. Any votes that end in a tie are considered defeated, so the motion was lost.
However, councillors who voted against the project quickly started calculating how long it might be before the tender is brought back for another vote. Coun. Steve Streatch (Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Harbour), who was absent and didn’t vote Tuesday, said he’d like to see it back at council “as soon as possible."
Both he and Coun. Harry McInroy (Cole Harbour) missed the extra council session Tuesday morning that was scheduled to deal with the awarding of summer construction tenders.
In separate interviews Wednesday, both said the vote should have been a formality because council has endorsed the project.
“We had made it clear that this is where council was going," Mr. Streatch said in an interview. “I am amazed how things can turn around so fast."
City planning staffers want a reversing centre lane added to ease traffic burdens to and from the Armdale Rotary at peak traffic times.
The project would affect seven Chebucto Road homeowners who stand to lose up to three metres of their property to accommodate the widening of that portion of Chebucto Road. The city has already purchased the land at a cost of $600,000.
The homeowners have been fighting the project since they found out about it in August 2006 and have secured more than 3,000 names on a petition. They’d rather the city invest the $2 million in carpooling lanes or commuter buses.
Last summer, the Armdale Rotary underwent a multimillion- dollar upgrade to realign the entry points from the traffic circle’s five feeder streets.
So to pull the rug out from under the project at the last possible moment was “quite inappropriate," especially when it affects so many people, Mr. Streatch said.
“The tenders were out and staff selected a proponent. The property has been sold and moved around, according to council’s wishes. And now, in the 11th hour, to have some councillors play politics with an issue that’s important, is disrespectful not only to the residents but also to the process and to council."
It also affects the company set to start the project, said Mr. McInroy.
“Obviously, (Basin Contracting Ltd.) wanted the work and put forward a strong bid," he said.
“It was an approved project of council . . . and so, from all appearances, no one would have reason to believe it wouldn’t proceed."
Coun. Sheila Fougere (Connaught- Quinpool), who had tried to get a one-year moratorium on the project last fall, said there might be a hurdle in getting the tender on next week’s meeting agenda, since Tuesday’s vote ended in a tie.
Motions of reconsideration require the support of twothirds of councillors, meaning several would have to have a change of heart.
She said her research of council’s administrative orders also suggested the motion could only be brought back to the floor quickly had Tuesday’s vote been decided in the a f f i r m at ive.
Otherwise, council has to wait two months to vote on a lost motion or revisit the issue after “the expiry of the civic year," she said.
With so many questions left hanging about the project, the city’s traffic manager said Wednesday that it might not get underway during the summer, when traffic counts are usually lower.
If council has to wait until mid-August to vote on it again, the 10-week project could be pushed into the fall.
“It would have been our preference to do it during the summer as opposed to during September and October," Dave McCusker said Wednesday.
“And it’s still not clear whether the contractor who won the award could still provide that service at a different time of year or not."
Despite the fact that the city might revisit the tender next week, the TRAX co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre said she was “heartened" by council’s vote Tuesday.
“It’s like a little bit of light and hope," Laena Garrison said Wednesday.
“We’ve been opposed to it from the start mainly because the point of the widening is to increase vehicle capacity of the road. And we advocate for getting people out of cars and into more sustainable options and increasing the viability of sustainable transportation options as opposed to getting roads to take more capacity."
As well, she’s happy to see that the number of councillors opposed to the project is growing.