Councillors salty on staff handling of over-budget South Glengarry salt dome

Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald and Corporate Services GM Lachlan McDonald present a road diagram to South Glengarry council Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Ewen MacDonald is still justifying his decisions over an over-budget winter road material storage facility being built on Airport Road. The building is a half million dollars over budget. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – Even though it’s approved and construction has started, an over-budget salt dome near Summerstown is salt in the wound of at least one councillor.

The $670,830 tender was awarded to Bourgon Construction in early July but it left some councillors with questions. With design and site work, the whole project on Airport Road has an estimated cost of $720,000.

The building is 80 feet wide (24 meters), 130 feet long (40 meters) and will told 4,000 metric tons of winter material (2,500 metric tons of stone dust and 1,500 metric tons of salt).

Infrastructure General Manager Ewen MacDonald, originally anticipating a project around $250,000, presented an information update report to council Tuesday night (Aug. 22) on how the decision was made.

The report addressed the complexity of the tender (some 327 pages), the size of the facility versus the township’s needs and possible other options for stone dust storage and salt.

What it didn’t address is specifically why the final project was $500,000 over budget. MacDonald maintains the facility is a no-frills build – only big enough to hold a season’s worth of stone dust and salt.

The report didn’t seem to appease some on council.

“I’m still very upset about this whole salt dome,” Coun. Lyle Warden said. “I feel this information should have been on our desks before you came to us with a tender. You’re trying to justify having that tender on our desks a month-and-a-half ago when this information should have been brought to us beforehand,” he exclaimed.

“Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) over budget, I think in the public’s eye council looked a little silly,” Warden added.

“I still don’t feel that we need to have a full year’s supply of stone dust or salt on hand,” he said.

Infrastructure GM MacDonald said delaying the project wasn’t an option, considering the deal had been signed.

“There wouldn’t be any financial benefit to deferring, in fact, the costs would likely have been higher,” MacDonald maintained.

Throwing cold water on another option to pick up material from the St. Andrews patrol yard, MacDonald said running from County Road 2 and Rae Road to St. Andrews would have added an hour on each plow run (average plow run is seven hours).

Coun. Warden believed adding an extra hour to the run for one year “wouldn’t have been a big deal. We would have figured something out. We have a facility in North Lancaster. We could have made it work.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost asked if the old Williamstown garage would be moved to Airport Road before considering a rebuild on its current site. He wondered if Airport Road was a suitable site.

MacDonald said it was considered and would be a correct fit considering the industrial use and the nearby airport.

Prevost didn’t entirely agree with that assessment.

“I just feel that it should have been more designed to be on a county road where the dump trucks are coming in on a regular basis more than a township road where there’s a lot of residential areas,” Prevost said.

“It’s too late. I guess the process has already begun. I think a little bit more process should have been looked at…where the long term garage and salt dome should be. I don’t think the garage is a good fit there,” the deputy mayor added.

Construction of the salt dome should be completed by the middle of October.