Bike path not a budget disaster

Kamloops Daily News
February 1, 2013 01:00 AM

This letter is in response to Ken Barry's letter Bike Path Demands Full Audit (The Daily News, Jan. 25).

First, I would like to thank Mr. Barry for taking the time to contact me to gather information and to seek clarification on some of the project details and financial aspects of the Valleyview Pedestrian/Bicycle Path.

It is always nice to find a citizen that is willing to spend the time upfront gathering information to ensure that they have the facts. I entirely agree that the city should be open and accountable.

This is why I had staff provide me with the information Mr. Barry requested so that I could ensure all the questions he asked were adequately addressed prior to my forwarding him the information.

What concerned me about Mr. Barry's letter is that Mr. Barry did not use some of the clarifying information correctly or did not include it at all, which in my opinion if used correctly would NOT have painted such a dismal picture of the project.

I have contacted Mr. Barry asking why. As of the time of writing this letter I have yet to hear a response.

I can only assume that he may have misinterpreted the information that was provided to him.

Examples of the inaccuracies are as follows: the pathway is not 600 metres in length but is over 1.2 kilometres in length; the components comprising the second phase were much greater in number, scope and complexity than Mr. Barry specified; and the 2008 conceptual $1.8-million project is not the same project as the final $6.1-million project constructed from 2010 to 2012.

The conceptual project did not include the bin wall that separates Battle Street and the CP Rail tracks, the bridge over the tracks including ramps both north and south of the tracks, and the portion of the path west of Battle Street and many other smaller components that make up the current project.

I do agree with Mr. Barry, even with my above comments taken into account, the overall project costs were greater than first anticipated due to work being conducted within an active CP Rail right of way, limited bidders to undertake the work, and details worked out between the conceptual stage and the final engineering design stage of the project.

In line with Mr. Barry's push for openness and transparency these issues and cost ramifications were conveyed to City council during open council meetings before each phase of construction was awarded.

Also in line with Mr. Barry's beliefs, which were echoed by a citizen's question at a recent budget open house, the city did undertake a postmortem analysis of the project to see what worked well and what could be improved upon for future projects.

The recommendations were piloted on capital projects in 2012 with success and will be rolled out more universally on future capital projects.

I should note that in my professional opinion the postmortem recommendations, although helping the City save money on some 2012 projects, would have had a minimal effect on the overall cost of the Valleyview project for various reasons that extended beyond administration management by City forces.

In line with Mr. Barry's requests and my beliefs, I am happy to share any of the information that was compiled for Mr. Barry with any press, citizen, auditor or interested party.


CAO, City of Kamloops

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