Naturalization of Vernon Creek through Polson Park to cost $1.3M more

Creek work to cost more

Naturalizing Vernon Creek through Polson Park will cost a lot more than anticipated.

Phase 1 of the project was originally planned to start this year, but has been delayed until next year, pending an approved site alteration permit from the province due to the discovery of indigenous artifacts in one area of the creek.

The delay, along with escalating construction costs, will add $1,310,000 to the first phase.

The 2023 capital budget includes $1,950,000 for the project, based on 2022 costing.

However, a memo to council noted construction cost escalation from 2021 to 2022 was 41%, and 6% from 2022 to 2023.

Updated costs also include increased costs for expected material handling requirements and post-construction environmental monitoring required as part of environmental approvals.

The new cost estimate for Phase 1 is $3,260,000.

The project is now scheduled for construction in 2024, between July and November.

The first phase will span from Highway 97 to the outlet of the park's duck ponds.

Phase 2 is scheduled for 2025 and will continue to the maintenance bridge at the back of the park.

The city will pursue grant money under emergency preparedness funding for flood mitigation projects. The park has seen repeated flooding of the creek in recent years.

City staff will seek a grant of $2 million for the first phase and potentially up to $5 million for the two phases.

Meanwhile, the additional $1.3 million will be included in the 2024 capital infrastructure program, allowing the project to proceed as planned.

When complete, annual maintenance costs are expected to be $10,000.

A report to council refers to "chronic ponding and high water issues seen in Polson Park in part due to the concrete channelized section of Vernon Creek and the duck ponds."

A separate report to council says the higher costs are attributed to challenges related to inflation, labour shortages, and supply chain issues.

Since 2014, construction costs for road infrastructure have increased by 127%.

The increase has reduced the capacity of the city's 1.9% infrastructure levy and the city's ability to renew works as planned.

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