The federal government will meet contractors Wednesday to discuss how to bring down the cost of Hamilton’s Randle Reef clean-up project.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is hosting an “Industry Day” with suppliers and other key players to talk about how to clean up Canada’s worst mass of coal-tar contamination while still making the $138.9-million budget.

The meeting is key to the future of the long-awaited plan. After years of discussion, the federal and provincial governments, cities of Hamilton and Burlington, the Halton Region, Hamilton Port Authority and U.S. Steel have all chipped in money or materials.

Construction was due to begin in the spring, but when tenders came in earlier this year, they were all over budget, putting the status of the clean-up in doubt.

Chris McLaughlin, director of the Bay Area Restoration Council, is optimistic some answers will be found Wednesday and in the coming weeks.

“I don’t see any reason to worry at this moment,” he said.

“There’s nothing unusual about this, or so I’m told by people who routinely tender large construction projects.”

Big players only

Randle Reef is about large mass of coal tar just offshore of U.S. Steel. The plan involves building a large steel containment facility to put over the worst contamination – about 130,000 cubic metres. The remaining 500,000 cubic metres will be dredged into the containment facility.

When it’s finished, the Hamilton Port Authority will use the site as a pier.

Wednesday’s workshop will talk about the project’s technical specifications, waste disposal and product supply, among other factors, the federal government says.

Industry Day is reserved for companies who can “attest to their capability of playing a significant role” in the project as design consultants, marine contractors or suppliers.

McLaughlin doubts the project will start this year, as the window for construction season is rapidly closing. But “I’m not concerned it won’t start next year.”

“If the announcement had been that the federal government pulled its funding on the project, for example, then we’d have all kinds of things to talk about,” he said.

“There are very few companies internationally that can build this, and this part of the process is about finding a meeting place between cost and ability.”