With the initial consultation process done, Bashaw town council is taking the next steps on the 54 Avenue project.
At its regular meeting on June 7, council approved the nearly $58,000 in spending to begin the second phase of the water, sewer and road reconstruction of 54 Avenue, stretching from 52 Street to the town’s reservoir. The expense is part of the town’s 2018 capital budget that passed later on at the same meeting.
This spending will see the town’s contractor — Tagish Engineering — get to work on the preliminary and detailed design of the project. In addition, a legal land surveyor and land agent will be contracted in order to secure agreements with the nine affected landowners for right-of-way access and the necessary easements required.
Jared Payot, a partner and certified engineer at Tagish, attended council in order to answer questions. There were quite a few.
Coun. Rosella Peterman was the first to quiz Payot on just why the expense of a land agent would be necessary.
“I think that having a land agent to help get agreements is a bit over the top,” said Peterman, who has a background in the engineering and land survey areas.
“Wouldn’t the land surveyor alone be able to do that, since they will be doing the work to get the plan and utility right-of-ways anyway?”
Payot noted this is Tagish’s preferred option for the project — and while the company has employed this process in the past — that doesn’t mean a change can’t be made. However, he explained the reasons behind having a land agent would be the way to go.
“The work the land agent would be doing is purely in the public consultation phase, where the agent would meet first individually with the affected landowners to explain what they can expect and hand out documents,” he said.
“Then, in a second visit, the agent would see all of them and answer any further questions.”
Payot did state that if council felt comfortable that there would be no issues with the landowners signing the agreement, then it would certainly be okay with just mailing the documents to them. Although, he added that once some people realize the extent of the possible inconvenience or the legalese of the contract, there may be some questions.
“Sometimes you get a surprise, because at an open house people may not realize that there will be a mountain of dirt on their property or that they have to find other ways into their home because they have no driveway access. This project will be intrusive for several months and that’s why we went with this higher end process,” he said.
In addition, CAO Theresa Fuller explained to council that it would be a shame to have the project held up due to a missed piece of information for one landowner, and while staff may be familiar with residents, it would be difficult and time-consuming for staff to deal with questions.
“With the first phase (of 54 Avenue project), it was all done within the present easements,” she said. “There is no way to gauge how much opposition or concerns will come up once they learn all the impacts and these contracts are not that easy to understand. Basically, this way it will take any perception of exploitation away.”
The design and land agreement work is expected to take about five months, with the project coming back to council for approval. After that, it’s anticipated the project will be put out for tender next March with construction to begin by that summer.