District will levy financial penalty if work disrupts school, as phase one did

By Steve Hubrecht
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Valley residents and visitors heading south from Invermere on Westside Road will once again be making a detour out around Eileen Madson Primary School (EMP) this summer.

The District of Invermere recently voted to award the contract for phase two of the sewer and water infrastructure upgrades along 13th Avenue to Marwest Industries Ltd. for $1.47 million.

Marwest is the same company that did phase one of the 13th Avenue sewer upgrades in summer and fall 2021. The closure of the 13th Avenue for the work and the subsequent detour of traffic along 15th Avenue caused some of the largest traffic jams the district has seen, once EMP students returned to school in September, during the school’s morning pick-off and afternoon drop-off times.

The chaos this caused was top of mind for councillors during discussion on the upcoming phase two.

“The construction on 13th Avenue was, I think it fair to say, quite disruptive to a lot of residents,” said Councillor Gerry Taft. “Will there be a monetary penalty for the contractors if they don’t finish the work (phase two) in time?”

Invermere Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Young replied that yes there is, and it is “quite clearly laid out in the request for proposals (RFP). There’s no hiding from that…We have a very narrow window to get this work done, in July and August… Marwest is quite aware of the need to get the work done in the window and there are indeed penalties that can be applied.”

To help pay for the work, council gave first, second and third readings to a loan authorization bylaw allowing the district to borrow up to $1.5 million, and initiated an alternate approval process on borrowing. 

“These are critically needed sewer upgrades that will help prevent sewer backups in basements,” said Young, later adding that the work also includes water system upgrades, new paving, and some parts of a multi-use path.