The Town of Canmore has yet again extended its snow and ice removal contract with Volker Stevin after the province of Alberta engaged in an extension of its contract with the private company for the next two winter seasons.
The Town of Canmore originally signed a contract with Volker Stevin in 2005 that set out a five-year term, with an option to renew for another two years, which was identical to timelines the provincial government has in place with the snow removal company for its contract.
Those timelines ran out and were renewed in 2014, with the potential for more extensions of the contract with mutual agreement. The province and the municipality each extended the contract until the end of 2017, but now, according to manager of public works Andreas Comeau, instead of taking the contract back out for tender, the province has agreed to another two-year extension and so should the Town of Canmore.
“By virtue of our relationship with the province and the similarity of services, we have been forced to go along with it,” said Comeau of the contract extension. “We are hopeful this is the last extension from the province and it will sit down with service providers provincially and look at longer periods of time.”
Council voted at its May 2 meeting to approve the two-year contract extension agreement. Comeau said it is unlikely at this time that the municipality would be able to secure a short-term agreement for snow and ice removal that would cost less than the current one.
Expenses related to snow and ice removal have averaged $297,500 per year, depending on the snowfall each season. The budget is also complicated by the fact that Canmore’s fiscal year is Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 – meaning each budget year for snow and ice removal includes two different winter and shoulder seasons. The 2017 cost for snow removal so far is $177,035 and final costs will be determined by the snowfall amounts this fall and winter.
The increased price for the contract per year is based on inflation, stated the staff report to council, and fuel, supplies and labour costs related to that. The Town’s cost adjustments are the same as the province’s, except for 2010 and 2011 when Canmore was able to negotiate a lower fee increase.
The staff report stated there are efficiencies and financial benefits to having a contract that mirrors the province’s agreement. Volker Stevin provides provincial service on the highways in this region from its base of operations in Canmore.
“The space Volker Stevin utilizes for its work operations in the Town of Canmore and on provincial highways is based out of an Elk Run Boulevard site,” Comeau said. “The Town of Canmore owns the site and they have a lease with us.”
Comeau also presented the renewal of the lease for council’s consideration, along with the contract extension.
Council voted unanimously to extend the lease to Volker Stevin for the maintenance facility until July 31, 2019. The lease sets out terms for 90 per cent of the site (which is 1.66 hecatres in size) and includes five buildings and two fuel tanks.
The Town of Canmore still has some use of the site, and thus Volker is credited for that usage. The total cost of leasing the land for Volker is $155,000, based on the 2007 lease.