Saturday, September 27, 2008

A completion date isn’t necessarily a completion date

The mystery over the Rushbrook trail and the lack of progress on its rejuvenation received an update in Thursday’s Daily News.

Earlier this week the Daily printed an article about a couple of local hikers who were beginning to wonder why the trail hadn’t been completed yet and where the money went that had been raised and allocated towards it.

As things turn out the completion date posted on the sign at the trail entrance is about a year early, a Ministry of Finance official advises that the contract regarding the trail doesn’t require the project to actually be finished no earlier than March 31 of 2009.

The convoluted wanderings of bureaucracy were untangled in a front page story in Thursday’s paper.

Rushbrook trial’s real finish date is march 31, 2009 despite sign promising ‘June 08’
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pages one and two

Following complaints from hikers about an apparent lack of progress on the Rushbrook Trail, representatives from two B.C. ministries said this week the walkway is 58 per cent paid for.

According to a B.C. Ministry of Finance representative and a representative from the ministry of Transportation, Prince Rupert was given two payments of $50,000 for the Rushbrook Olympic Interpretive Walkway trail, a trail that remains unfinished because it passed the 50 per cent funding requirement for work done.

"Sometimes, the cost does not show up because of all the preliminary stuff that has to go on," said Doug Harms of the Infrastructure Development Branch for the ministry of Transportation.
Harms said that the first payment comes when the contracts have been tendered and work has begun on the project, and for the second payment the funding is received when there is a statement of expenditures from an independent professional, in this case an engineer associated with the trail project.

The final payment would not be received until an official audit on the completed project is sent, said Harms.

As for oversight on a project like this, Harms said that they do not normally have anyone directly from the B. C. government overseeing work but instead rely on pictures to prove that work has been done.

“Because the costs to the project are relatively small, it is just not cost effective to go up to (Prince Rupert),” said Harms. He added that the only time they would send a monitor to inspect a project is when the project is considered in trouble, which at this point, Rushbrook is not.

Charles Suenbermen of the ministry of Finance confirmed what Harms said. He added that the sign at the head of the rail might say that the trail is to be completed by “June 2008”, but the contract signed by the city, Rotary Club of Prince Rupert and the B. C. government requires the project to be finished no earlier than March 31, 2009.

The funding for the Olympic/Paralympic Live Sites (OPLS) used to be run through the Ministry of Economic Development but were subsequently moved to within the control of the Ministry of Finance.

The change happened under the restructuring of provincial portfolios undertaken last June.
The OPLS are now approved directly by the Minister of Finance, Colin Hansen.

Hansen added that the District of Port Edward’s OPLS project, the dock expansion of the North Pacific Historic Fishing Village Museum, is completed and that Port Ed has requested that the final $45,000 cheque be sent to the district.

City of Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond said, as far as he was aware, the city has not given a cent to the trail project and he said the city would only be paying for services in-kind, meaning gravel for the trail route or other similar donations.

“We’re playing a supportive role but it is a Rotary project,” said Pond.

“My understanding is that they are getting close to tendering contracts.”

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