Brooke-Alvinston shells out $1.3 million to start Shiloh Line work

A car heads down Shiloh Line toward AW Campbell Conservation Area.

Heather Wright/The Independent

Brooke-Alvinston is moving ahead with the reconstruction of Shiloh Line even though the lowest bid is $1.3 million more than first expected.

Treasurer Stephen Ikert says the municipality applied for a grant for the project, which will see the road rebuilt from AW Campbell Conservation Area to Forest Road with shoulders for pedestrians and cyclists, in 2019. At the time, staff expected the project to cost $3,089,130.

In the spring of 2020, the federal and provincial government approved the project and offered to cover about 93 per cent of the project – about $2.8 million.
Brooke-Alvinston would only have to cover $206,045 of the project and any cost overruns.

That’s where the problem began. When the municipality asked for bids on the project, the lowest price came from Cope Construction at $4,345,034.90 – a 40 per cent cost overrun.

Ikert told council there were a number of options including cancelling the project, continue and borrow the money to fund the extra, use money left in the township’s reserves to fund the extra or change the project to bring the costs in line with the budget.

Ikert says borrowing the money means Brooke-Alvinston would have less money for other projects in the future. Over 10 years, he estimates it will cost about $75,000 to finance the loan.

Ikert says there is $1.3 million in reserves, but that would mean there would be no money set aside for road projects in the future.

Modifying the project would only work if the two levels of government would agree. And he says it would likely mean removing the paved shoulder from the construction.

Council decided to move forward, using some money from reserves to cover the cost overrun and borrowing the rest.

Councillor Jamie Armstrong says while removing the paved shoulders from the project would save money, it wouldn’t be the best option.

“I’ve known, like, for a long time that road is dangerous. We used to warn our kids coming down there from the park all the time….the superintendent of AW Campbell Conservation Area, posted a warning about Shiloh,” he says. “I really don’t want to see this project get deferred for a year, personally, I would like to see us follow through with the project.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Nemcek thought there was an alternative to fully paved shoulders.
“If we’re going to wait one more year, this is going to go up another 5 per cent or 10 per cent – I know for a fact. So what my idea would be is remove the paved shoulders from 79 (Nauvoo Road) to Forest Road and leaving them in from 79 to the Campbell Park.”

Ikert noted that would need approval of the provincial and federal governments and it could down the project.

Mayor Dave Ferguson cautioned moving ahead at the $4.35 million cost and borrowing some of the cash to cover the overrun could lead to tax increases of seven or eight per cent in the coming years.

Armstrong argued the full project should move ahead. “If we don’t do this project, now, I would not want to guess how long we may have to wait to do this project,” he says.
Council in a 3-2 vote agreed to move forward using some cash from reserves and borrowing the rest.