The public will just have to cross their legs a little longer as a downtown washroom construction project, slated to be completed in September has been delayed due to the discovery of underground fuel tanks.
Citizen concerns were voiced to The Northern View when passersby and area business customers witnessed the removal of tanks and possible soil sampling occurring in late August at the 3rd Ave. and 7th St. construction site.
Richard Pucci, director of operations for the City of Prince Rupert, confirmed in a Sept. 14 email to The Northern View that tanks were discovered when construction crews were in the process of hooking up the sewer and water connections.
“Unfortunately, these tanks were unknown to the current staff and not considered when planning to use this site. On the positive side, the site is being cleaned up in compliance with all environmental standards,” he said.
The discovery of the tanks is not the only setback to the $200,000 construction, which was originally announced in March, has faced. The project has also been delayed by manufacturing issues of the Urbaloo unit.
Corrine Bomben, chief financial officer for the City of Prince Rupert said, it is unknown at this time how much the costs of removing the tanks and environmental remediation will be, but the cost will not be placed on this year’s taxes.
“… we’re already through the year, there won’t be a 0.15 per cent increase in property tax because we’re not going to increase the property taxes at the end of the year. Once the final costs come in, we’ll see where there’s any overages, and if it can come out of surplus,” the CFO said.
Just how long the tanks have been underground on the property is unclear, Bomben said, as Prince Rupert is a relatively young city, and records of who installed tanks for home heat or other reasons were not kept in the early days.
“People had fuel heat for their homes. People buy homes, and then they don’t know that there’s an undisclosed tank. So I mean, it’s the same situation, but we’re dealing with much further back,”
“At the end of the day, the positive part is that the tanks are removed … and we are dealing with it accordingly.”
Paul Lagace, board of director of Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Society (PRACS) the organization which allocated the funding through the Reaching Home: Canada’s Homeless Strategy program, said they were told at a meeting on Sept. 16, the completion will be delayed until the end of October.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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