LETTER: Councillor stands by record on bridge

I stand by my record on this major capital project, the city’s most costly in its history.

Re: Councillor should look at his record on bridge (Letters, Feb. 4)

A letter writer suggests I should examine my record on the Johnson Street Bridge project, but provides no examples.

I stand by my record on this major capital project, the city’s most costly in its history.

In early 2012, shortly after being elected as a city councillor, I introduced a proposal with then-councillors Lisa Helps and Shellie Gudgeon to proceed with a more conventional procurement process, in order to simplify the design, contain costs and ensure future rail capability of the new bridge (a proposal that did not receive majority support).

A month later, I voted against increasing the project budget from $77 million to $93 milion.

When preliminary bids were received in mid-2012 — and two of the three responding firms expressed serious concerns over the feasibility of completing the project within the available budget — I suggested the city should consider alternatives, rather than proceed further with procurement.

When a final contract was submitted for city council’s approval at the end of 2013, valued at $63 million, I voted against, because I believed the project contingency was too small and because I believed the contract exposed the city to too much financial risk.

My focus now is on applying as much fiscal discipline to the project as possible, to ensure the city retains the financial capacity to pursue other important social and environmental priorities.

Ben Isitt, Victoria city councillor