Water project moves closer to completion

PORT McNEILL - Council approves contractor for Phase V of pipe-replacement project on Broughton Boulevard and Haddington Crescent

PORT McNEILL — The replacement of Port McNeill’s public water infrastructure moved into its next phase when council voted  during its regular meeting Aug. 15 to award the contract for Phase V of the project to Windley Contracting Ltd.

The project to replace aging underground pipes started in 2010, and is expected to wrap up late this fall with a total price tag of approximately $4.2 million.

Phase V, the last major phase of construction, was bid for $929,263 to Windley, which recently completed Phase IV of the pipe replacement on Campbell Way and Mine Road.

Two smaller phases to complete the project will follow.

“It will change the water system for the majority of Port McNeill, which has had these pipes in the ground for close to 50 years,” Mayor Gerry Furney said. “The water quality, which is drawn from four wells, is excellent. But the old pipeline was asbestos cement and that eventually starts to break down.”

Windley was one of seven contractors that submitted tenders by the July 22 deadline, and came in with the lowest bid.

“Windley did a fabulous job on the work up McNeill hill, and they were so quick,” coun. Shirley Ackland said. “I’m pleased they’ve submitted the proposal for this phase.”

Phase V will include work on Broughton Boulevard and Haddington Crescent. Previous phases included work on Beach Drive, McNeill Way, Campbell Way and Mine Road, and involved the installation of both new underground pipe and new fire hydrants.

“We first decided we would start converting it little by little as we could afford it,” said Furney. “But with the granting of $2.8 million from the feds and the provincial government, we’ll tackle the whole thing.”

Last Wednesday, North Vancouver Island MP John Duncan visited and met with local dignitaries to review progress on the water system thus far.

Tax day fixed

Council approved a bylaw that fixes the due date for property taxes each year as the first working day in July and the accrual of unpaid tax penalty additions as the end of the first working day in July.

The primary effect of the new bylaw is on language, rather than on the due date or penalty date. Previously, the town had to update its forms and mailers to reflect a specific day (ie, July 2, July 3, etc.). The new language will allow the town to use the same forms, regardless of calendar changes from year to year.

“This will save us the cost of printing new forms every year,” Mayor Gerry Furney said.

Art in a box

Council approved allowing local artist Heather Brown to paint one of several BC Hydro power kiosks on Beach Drive with the idea of having artwork applied to additional power boxes in the future.

The vote followed the approval of BC Hydro, on the condition that the town take responsibility for cleanup of any grafitti that might appear on its boxes. The town can apply for a $1,000 grant toward the painting project.

Coun. Shirley Ackland, noting the artwork on BC Hydro kiosks in Port Hardy, had suggested Brown paint three or more of the kiosks in Port McNeill, and Brown submitted a series of suggested themes to council. But Coun. Shelley Downey was concerned that one artist be singled out for the project at the exclusion of other local artists.

“I didn’t know an individual councillor was going around asking artists to do this,” said Downey. “If I had known, I might have asked some artists, too.”

After discussion, council agreed to allow Brown to paint the first kiosk, then see if other artists come forward with an interest in taking part.

The artists will not be paid for the work, but council did agree to pay for specialized materials necessary for the outdoor painting projects.

“We’re looking for good volunteers,” Furney said.

Tour de Rock prizes donated

Council voted to approve one boat launch pass and one harbour parking pass as prize donations for the Cops for Cancer Golf Tournament Sept. 17 at Seven Hills Golf and Country Club.

The tournament is a fund raiser for the 2011 Tour de Rock, which begins in Port Alice Sept. 24 and which raises money to fund cancer research.