By Cole Parkinson
The often talked about Vauxhall/Highway 36 rest stop area is starting to move towards getting started, as Municipal District of Taber council were presented with a partnership agreement.
The project is expected to have a 6.96-acre paved parking lot with washroom facilities, and an area for heavy trucks to park and drivers rest.
The M.D. of Taber currently owns land including a 9.17-acre parcel directly adjacent to the Town of Vauxhall, east of Highway 36, which is being eyed as where the project will be located.
“There was a bit of back and forth with Alberta Transportation to have agreements finalized to a point where administration thought it would be reasonable to bring back to council for a decision. What you are seeing is two separate agreements. One for the construction of the rest area itself and the second of lot lease agreement from Alberta Transportation,” said Craig Pittman, director of Infrastructure during the M.D.’s meeting on Feb. 11.
The estimated cost for the development is slated at $2 million, with $1.5 million coming from Alberta Transportation and the remaining $500,000 coming from the municipality, which has been budgeted.
“We are at a point where we have a conceptual design and cost estimates associated with that as well as a cost-shared agreement through the memorandum. It seems good and is a $2 million cost estimate into that. Alberta Transportation is looking to put the first $1.5 million in and the municipality to contribute up to $500,000 for the design, engineering, construction and any other work tied to that,” added Pittman.
Pittman also highlighted the fact that if the project comes in under budget, the M.D. would be on the hook for whatever cost was remaining after Alberta Transportation’s $1.5 million.
With the agreement in front of council, they asked if administration believed it was an agreeable deal for the municipality.
“I believe we have a good deal the way it is and there isn’t much more room to negotiate,” answered Pittman.
Pittman also went into some detail about the project once it moves forward. “The entire development will still be owned by the municipality, including the approximately 2.7 acre lots,” he explained, while he also touched on the water and sewer situation. “Water for sure, sewer we are still looking at what the best solution would be for those two lots.”
As with any project, M.D. council inquired about the possibility of it going over the allotted $2 million estimate.
While it is always a possibility, Pittman was fairly confident it would come in right around the $2 million mark, as projected.
“The engineer’s estimates show some room for contingencies in there as well. As long as their estimates are accurate, we (will be around $2 million),” he said. “We would have to talk a bit more if the tender price comes in a lot higher. There is usually clauses within tender documents that do that, but it gets more complicated if you are looking to back out of them. I don’t believe that is going to happen, but it is always a possibility when you put a construction job to tender. I don’t feel it is a high-risk job to see inflated pricing.”
A motion was made to agree to sign the partnership and lease agreements with Alberta Transportation agreeing that they will pay the first $1.5 million towards the project cost and was passed unanimously. As far as maintenance of the washrooms is concerned, the M.D. would be the party in charge. Council inquired if the Town of Vauxhall would be interested in coming to a partnership to share those duties at the washroom facility.
Another motion was made to discuss with Vauxhall town council cost sharing of maintenance of the facility and was passed unanimously.