Bridge decision best given bad situation

Groans came from city taxpayers at news the estimated cost for the Johnson Street Bridge project had jumped by more than $15 million.

Groans came from city taxpayers and some councillors last week at news the estimated cost for the Johnson Street Bridge project had jumped by more than $15 million.

We don’t blame people for getting bent out of shape about the cost hike, especially when residents voted for a new bridge they thought was costing $77 million.

But there was good reason to bump the cost estimate for the bridge project up by a factor of 20 per cent.

Such factors as moving the Telus wiring duct under the old bridge, the requirement for a more detailed geophysical survey of the seabed, the contaminated soil disposition and the archaeological monitoring of the project by First Nations are aspects with floating costs.

The question is, could such extra costs have been anticipated before the referendum by either the city, or the company overseeing the project, MMM Group?

Perhaps. From the public’s response to the news, the city could have emphasized more clearly that the $77-million projected cost was only an estimate, and that it was entirely possible that it would increase by the time the project reached the building stage.

People don’t like being surprised by such things, especially when it has the potential to affect their pocketbooks.

City manager Gail Stephens assured two News staffers last week that the higher cost would not require a further burden on taxpayers. We sincerely hope that is true and remains so through the life of the project.

With a $92.8-million cost estimate now on the table, there is zero wiggle room left. The city needs to have a plan to address any further cost overruns.

That said, it’s time for the province to step up to the plate to help cover off the extra costs, especially since the federal government kicked in far more than it originally committed to.

The city must do its part to keep costs manageable, but let’s see the B.C. Liberals play a role in the funding equation.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: BC Children’s lottery offers luxury downtown Victoria home as a prize

The Choices Lotto has luxury homes across the province

Island teen climber seizes last opportunity to qualify in 2020 Olympic games

Brennan Doyle, 16, heads to L.A. for Pan American Climbing Championships

University of Victoria profs take home prestigious national teaching award

Brent Mainprize and Edōsdi–Judy Thompson recognized as a 2020 3M National Teaching Fellows

Victoria modular housing complex built to house homeless Indigenous women

Spa’Qun, or ‘Flower House’ will provide shelter and cultural support

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Alleged shoplifter caught on camera at Sidney boutique

Staff at Cameron Rose Gifts seek the public’s help locating woman

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read