Funding for Johnson Street bridge should be flexible

Federal government needs to understand specifics rather than force rushed project

There is a danger in making assumptions regarding the Federal Building Canada funding of the Johnson Street Bridge replacement project.

Proponents of a unique, experimental and expensive architectural design have stated that there is a deadline for completion that, if missed, will result in Canada’s withdrawal of this funding. I find this statement of an immovable deadline hard to believe.

Victoria city councillors have been pressured to accept substantial budget increases by the proponents who have used this deadline argument to rush the project through.

This infrastructure project is by far the largest the City of Victoria has ever attempted.

By late-June, three contractors will begin the proposal and bidding process.

It is very likely that the costs will escalate beyond the approved budget and so it is imperative that council be prepared to make hard decisions regarding the design, and whether to simplify it and adopt a more conventional tried-and-true variety to reduce the costs and risks.

Answering these simple questions would be greatly appreciated by councillors and taxpayers: Can this funding deadline be extended? If so, what would the procedure be to extend this deadline?

If we do not have definitive answers to these questions, then the city will be at a disadvantage when any unforeseen circumstances arise that delay the project.

If there is no cause for concern and the grant deadline is indeed extendable, then the project is being unnecessarily rushed, which will likely cause increased costs and human error.

I have written to Denis Lebel, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Victoria MP Denise Savoie hoping for answers.

Andrew Laks

Victoria