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The consultant is responsible for Centennial boat launch flop, councillor says

Troy Shantz A city councillor is placing the blame for the long-delayed boat launch in Centennial Park firmly on the shoulders of the project consultant.
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The old boat launch ramps in Centennial Park were removed earlier this month but have not yet been replaced. Glenn Ogilvie file photo

Troy Shantz

A city councillor is placing the blame for the long-delayed boat launch in Centennial Park firmly on the shoulders of the project consultant.

“I put that directly on Golder,” Anne Marie Gillis said of Golder Contracting, a division of Golder Associates.

“We have hired them to do this job because supposedly they were the experts. I put this squarely on them.”

Golder Associates has been overseeing the remediation of Centennial Park after portions of it were closed in 2013 because oil, asbestos and lead has been found in the soil.

The project was expected to be a three-phase affair at an estimated cost of $6 million or less. Additional funding approved by council last week boosted the bill to $11.7 million.

On the advice of Golder, Bre-Ex Construction was hired as the contractor for final phases of the work last June. Under that arrangement, Golder Associates – Construction Division, became the contract administrator providing design and management services.

Repeated attempts to build coffer dams to contain the water during construction of the boat launch in Sarnia Bay failed, and the work site beside Dockside Restaurant has been idle with no activity for weeks.

“This one has just been a never-ending story. I know people are terribly frustrated; council is terribly frustrated,” Gillis said.

“I’m not impressed — not impressed at all with Golder as a project manager, because they can’t seem to manage this project.”

The absence of a municipal boat launch has angered Sarnia-Lambton’s large community of recreational boaters and anglers — and just as the summer water season kicks into high gear.

Bridgeview Marina has stepped up to help and is doing what it can to accommodate trailer demand, but boaters say the single ramp in Point Edward is simply inadequate to meet local needs.

Gillis explained that for municipal projects of this scale the city usually acts as the project manager. But given the nuances and expertise required for the unprecedented park remediation, it was decided it would be best to hire Golder.

“They had the expertise and we didn’t,” she said.

The city announced last August that work was starting on the new boat ramp, and the old one would remain open until the new one was complete.

However, the old launches were pulled out in January to facilitate shoreline construction work.

Gillis was quick to note Golder Associates did a terrific job on the remediation part of the project. But with the boat ramps she believes the city — the client — has been, “totally disrespected by this Golder contract management team.”

“There are many people within our community that have had experience with this. I am not aware that Golder has reached out to anyone.”

Asked if litigation is an option, Gillis said she couldn’t comment one way or the other.

“All I can say is, we’re not finished with Golder.”

When contacted, a spokesperson at Golder Associates, Tina Marano, said all media inquiries should be directed to the city.

Sarnia CAO Margaret Misek-Evans declined to comment.

Coun. Matt Mitro said he agreed with Gillis that Golder Contracting’s work on the boat ramps has left much to be desired.

“I know one group of people it’s not the fault of — the City of Sarnia, Sarnia city council, Mayor Bradley,” he said.

“None of us have any particular thing to do with that part of it because we said… we’ll trust the experts.”

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