Maryanne Firth / The Tribune
LANDInc. has worked in partnership with Port Colborne's mayor's youth advisory council and local skateboarders and BMX riders to design this nautical-themed skatepark to be built at Lock 8 Park.
Port Colborne is getting its nautical-themed skateboard and BMX park.
Council awarded the park construction contract to Toronto-based Patterned Concrete on Monday night, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Several councillors raised concerns when the project’s price tag came in well over the $700,000 initially budgeted.
“I’m in favour of the park, but not to the tune of $807,377,” said Ward 3 Coun. Bea Kenny, referencing the total cost to construct the park design option recommended by staff.
“I want this, but we have to be reasonable.”
When the park design was originally approved by council in March, the estimated cost was $700,000.
Following the approval, a geotechnical investigation was conducted at Lock 8 Park, where the facility will be located, and it was determined there is an additional cost of about $80,000 to dig to the bedrock on site and create a proper foundation.
The cost also rose after the city received five tenders for the project, all higher than the initial $700,000 estimate, said community services manager Gary Makins. Staff recommended the lowest tender, offered by Patterned Concrete.
To help lower the cost of the project, staff recommended a build option that saw the wave track, colour in the concrete and sun shelter removed.
This brought the cost from $875,902 for the full build to $807,377.
“The bottom line is kids have waited at least 15 years for this,” said Ward 2 Coun. Yvon Doucet, who encouraged council to support the construction of the sporting facility.
“I believe we somehow need to get that extra money to build this thing and build it right the first time.”
Looking at the city’s existing facilities, there are elements that could have been included at the time of construction that were skipped to save costs. Those efficiencies at the time have cost the city in the long run, he said, with changes needed to be made to facilities after the fact.
“I believe if we do this correctly, we’ll have one of the best facilities in the peninsula,” Doucet said, adding he thinks it will also be one of the most visited parks in Niagara.
Both children and adults, he said, are “chomping at the bit” waiting for the park to be built so they can give it a try.
The city’s special events co-ordinator Gina Murdoch knows that to be fact.
She’s been receiving calls from people questioning when the unique nautical-themed park will be open so they can plan a trip to the area and test it out.
Ward 2 Coun. Angie Desmarais was also in favour of moving forward with the park, despite the cost.
“I know it’s a lot of money to spend, but I think our kids are worth it,” she said.
“If we can find the money to take risks for other things we can find the money to take risks for our kids.”
Ward 1 Coun. Dave Elliott was in favour of building the park, but admit he was “shocked” when he saw the increase to the bill. He felt the initial budget offered enough funding to support the project.
He questioned whether Lock 8 Park would have been crossed off the list as a location had the city known the extra cost of building there. Staff did not have the authority to move forward with the geotechnical investigation until the design was approved.
“I want to build the skate park,” Elliott said, “but sometimes you need to build within a limit and stay within the limit.”
Whether any other sites would be suitable for the project could not be determined without further geotechnical studies being done at a cost of $4,000 a piece, said Port Colborne’s manager of projects and design Chris Lee.
The same problems would likely be found at several locations in the city given that Port Colborne lies mainly on bedrock, added Doucet.
There are opportunities to “work down” the price “without jeopardizing the structure or warranty of the structure,” said chief administrative officer Bob Heil.
“We believe we may be able to negotiate some cost savings,” he said, but the project will still come in over the initial budget.
Heil said there may be an opportunity for the city to partner with a marine company, allowing naming rights to the ship that makes up the design.
Port Colborne’s mayor’s youth advisory council, which helped to design the facility, is also working on a plan to fundraise $70,000 for the build — 10% of the initial budget, Doucet said.
The group is working on four different fundraising initiatives including partnering with Pedal Bicycle Shop to raffle off a bike, with the winning ticket drawn at the park’s opening; hosting a movie night at Nickel Beach on July 21; partnering with local businesses who will host a $2 donation campaign at their checkouts; and hosting a car wash sometime this summer.
Several funding commitments, including $1,000 from the Port Colborne Firefighters Association, have already been made.
Bodner put forth an amendment to see the colour again included in the design at a cost of $21,000, including the opportunity for a sponsor marine company to choose colours to suit their brand. Desmarais put forth an additional amendment to see the wave track also included at a cost of $18,000.
The addition of the wave track and coloured concrete brought the total cost to $846,377.
Both amendments were approved after Badawey voted in favour and broke two tied votes cast by council.
Port Colborne is being rebuilt for young families, Badawey said, and the park is another step in transforming the city into a “vibrant, active community.”
“We’re adding to the inventory of reasons why people come to Niagara’s south coast.”
Elliott called for a recorded vote on the amended motion during the council portion of the evening.
In favour were Badawey, Bodner, Ward 4 Coun. Barbara Butters, Desmarais, Doucet and Ward 1 Coun. Bill Steele.
Opposed were Ward 3 Coun. Frank Danch, Elliott and Kenny.
Staff recommended the funds be debenture over 30 years, 10 years longer than when the project’s budget was initially proposed.
Interest on the project will be about $200,000 over the additional 10 years, said Peter Senese, the city’s director of community and corporate services. The annual cost for the debenture to the tax levy is about $49,000, or a 0.37% increase, he added.