Some Prince Edward County councillors have been getting an ear full from constituents when it comes to the cost of purchasing new trees for Picton’s downtown revitalization project.
At Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting councillor Brad Nieman raised the issue of staff approving the purchase of 29 new trees at $6,525 a pop totaling $189,000, $100,000 over budget, a decision that didn’t come before the horseshoe.
The downtown project was tendered out to Taggart Construction in Kingston at $4.4 million and it included the replacement of 17 trees at $5,400. (The lowest tender.) The landscaping company is also out of Kingston. It was later decided by the contractor that several wouldn’t survive construction. Plus four inch trees opposed to two inch were requested by the Picton BIA – another factor driving up the price. The cost also includes installation, a decorative tree grate, tree guards, root drains, root deflectors and a two year warranty.
Chief Administrative Officer James Hepburn said given they were told none of the trees within the construction zone would survive they decided to replace them all because the cost to do so after the sidewalks were poured would be even greater.
Councillor Kevin Gale says he was “ripped a new one” by angered constituents. Then he read about it in the media like others around the horseshoe.
“Shame on Taggart if there is that big of a difference.”
“Maybe getting ripped a new one is our cross to bear,” Councillor Bill Roberts said. “We have things like a $600 million infrastructure deficit. It’s crucial for us to remain focused on those big issues. Part of that means budgeting our time around those issues more efficiently.
Nieman suggested that going forward, each tender should have line items included with the report prior to getting the approval. He also said there should be a final report with project budgets and any overages.
The motion wasn’t carried.