Mayor’s corner: Digging deep into construction

Tyler Warman
Mayor of Slave Lake

Construction season in Alberta is short. Like most communities, Slave Lake tries to pack in enough days to ensure our projects are completed on time and on budget.

Additionally there is a small pool of construction contractors who are used by communities across Alberta, and so these companies try to find every possible day they can to complete a project.

This year the town took on two road rehabilitation projects, one in the North East and one in the North West. The one project in the Northeast was completed a few months ago, while the one in the North West continues as you read this.

The one in the North West has had some challenges and so it was overdue. I provided an update.

So what was planned was to re-construct a section of road in the North West (Along 5th Ave. between 8th St. and 5th St.). Along with that construction comes sidewalk repair, new gutters, and new water and sewer lines under ground.

When doing work like this, we often have to cut into driveways (so when we are done the grade is the same for all properties) and we have a big trench to expose the underground lines.

In the past we have used a “gator” to haul residents around. It was something new we used in the South East, during construction of 12th Ave., when the project was on a much larger scale and residents had much further to travel. It obviously comes as an added cost and we didn’t see the service used often, so we decided to not include it as part of the 5th Ave. North West rehabilitation project.

Back to construction, we have recently replaced the water and sewer line in middle of the street.

While they have been replaced we had to pressure test the new lines and make sure they have no leaks. We did that and had leaks on some of the cc’s (valves that go to individual houses). So we dug those up and replaced them, pressure tested again and had more leaks.

This prompted us to dig up all the cc’s at cost of over $150,000.

We had not planned for this, but anytime you are digging something up underground and dealing with pipes nobody has seen in the last 40 years, well….anything can happen. This has largely been the issue on delays with the project.

Now we live in Northern Alberta, and mother nature has been quite uncooperative with us in the last month. We have had below freezing temperatures at the beginning of October, and it lead to our temporary above ground water lines freezing on a regular basis. This was beyond frustrating for our residents who live in the area, as well frustrating for our crews. Obviously the weather has been co-operating with us for the last few days, and the future looks better.

Now another issue that we have recently learnt about is our contractor has been “borrowing” people’s power without their consent. We have discussed this with our contractor and agree completely that this is not acceptable. If you believe you have been impacted by this issue, please email our CAO brian@slavelake.ca and we will investigate the issue and take appropriate action. For future projects we will consider using a construction hotline to make it easier for residents to get updates and voice concerns.

So what’s next. As I write this, the town has completed changing all the valves. They have pressure tested and half the line has passed and they are in the process of testing the other half. Once that is complete we need to sanitize the line. Essentially we put a bunch of chlorine pucks in the line and it sits the line sits dormant for 24 to 48 hours. After we then flush the line twice and re-fill it. Samples of the water is then sent to the province to be tested so we can get approval to then use for residents. That process takes approximately four to six days.

At this point our hope is to have residents off temporary water and onto the new water line by next week, under the assumption all these tests pass all necessary requirements. The road will be built back up and compacted. Our hope is to get concrete poured in the coming days. New curbs, sidewalks and tie in driveways that have been disturbed.

Once that is complete, the concrete has to cure for up to seven days. If at that point mother nature is still co-operating, pavement would go down and landscaping repaired in the spring. If mother nature doesn’t co-operate, we would add gravel, open the road again and pave in the spring.

I apologize for the delays residents have experienced, we are just wanting to make sure its done right and lasts for years to come. If you have any additional concerns please feel free to email Brian our CAO at brian@slavelake.ca and we will do our best to deal with them. Thank you to all for your patience and understanding.

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