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Council delays Co-op demolition decision

Terrace city council has postponed voting on spending money to demolish its Co-op property on Greig Ave., saying it first needs to decide if this is its number one priority.

Last night, council examined the eight bids that came in for the tender to remove asbestos and demolish the Co-op building, which ranged from $219,000 to $755,757.  There was a recommendation that council choose the lowest bid, which would make the total project cost come in around $332,400; this includes the tender amount, project management, monitoring, disposal costs, utilites costs, permit fees and a contingency allowance.

But councillor Lynne Christiansen was the first to point out that picking a bid is not council’s only option.

“I didn’t know that we had actually decided to go ahead with the demolition project,” she said. “We’re looking at awarding contracts and reallocating funds, and there were other options we were considering. I wasn’t really aware that we were going ahead.”

Councillor Brad Pollard agreed.

“I think this is a great idea, a great bid…but by coming to council in this form, it makes it apparent that this is the council’s first priority for spending any excess money,” he said. “And I do not believe that’s an accurate reflection of the discussions this council had in the past.”

Pollard suggested that all of council meet and confirm that this is council’s highest priority before any decision is made on the issue.

“In my mind, if we had $300,000 to spend, I would be putting it up in the airport lands where it’s worth almost a million dollars because of the three-way split in funding,” he said, referring to the Skeena Industrial Development Park near the airport that the city has matching dollars to with both senior governments. Council has struggled over the past few yeas to put money towards the 700m access road and intersection planned there.

“While I think this is great and I’d love to get rid of that building, I think we have to be absolutely sure as a council that this is our number one priority,” Pollard said.

Councillor Bruce Bidgood agreed with Pollard.

“I think that we have to have that conversation, is this our (priority) as opposed to two or three other continuing initiatives,” he said, but added, “I’m going to support this one when we have that discussion.”

Councillor Brian Downie asked Pollard what other projects are out there.

“What you’re essentially asking is to defer this decision pending further discussion at which time I presume you’ll have further information,” Downie said. “What further information do you expect to get that you don’t have right now?”

Pollard said there may not be more information, but there are different opinions on the community’s priorities.

“Those opinions have to be stated and understood by everyone,” he said. “And come the vote if the Co-op is the top priority and everybody agrees to that or the majority agrees to that, I’ll be right behind supporting it.”

But he said in his mind, the Co-op isn’t the community’s top priority.

“I think it’s a big decision and everyone in council should be a part of it,” Pollard said.

Council has decided to wait until all councillors could have their say and discuss priorities together. Missing from the meeting were councillors Carol Leclerc and Bruce Martindale.

Council has 30 days from when the tender closed July 20, or until around mid-August, to decide on a bid.

An extra committee of the whole meeting, open to the public, is due to be scheduled between now and the next regular council meeting Aug. 8  for council to discuss which project it would like to spend its money on.

The city received a $375,000 provincial grant earlier this spring for its Davis Ave. road reconstruction project after it committed its own money to the project and council has been trying to decide what to do with the windfall.

Current and former councils have been trying to decide out what to do with the Co-op property since it purchased it in 2005 for $1 million.

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