Only bid for Victoria's pedestrian bridges $1 million more than city willing to spend

City councillor Geoff Young says a building boom in the city is pushing up the costs for public projects.

City councillor says building boom in B.C. 's capital making public projects too expensive

The city had planned to build a footbridge link along Heron Cove at Fisherman’s Wharf. (City of Victoria )

A city councillor in Victoria says a building boom in the city is pushing up the costs for public projects.

The city postponed plans to build two pedestrians foot bridges along the David Foster Harbour Pathway on Thursday, when the only bid for project was $1 million over its budget.  

Geoff Young, a Victoria city councillor, told CBC's Michael Tymchuk on  All Points West that private construction around the city is driving up costs because the demand for work is greater than usual and there are fewer workers available to do it.

'Other things to do'

"All of those cranes are accompanied by a whole lot of people," Young said. "Everybody is working, the cranes are busy, the cement trucks are busy and the construction companies just don't feel the need for another job."

Victoria has seen an increase in building permits, construction investment and construction employment in the past year. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Young said engineering work had already gone into plans for the two pedestrian bridges that would have been at Raymur Point and Heron Cove in James Bay.

Nearly a hundred construction companies downloaded the tender documents, but only one costly bid was made.  

"We're told people just aren't that interested," he said. "A lot of people may come to the initial meeting and get the documents, but only one or two will actually submit a bid because there is so little interest and they have other things to do."

The cost of waiting

Young said the city could wait to see if a less expensive bid materializes, but in the meantime grants for the project could disappear.

"There are a number of grant programs that assist us and encourage us in building, for example, bicycle facilities," Young said. "Sometimes if you miss your timing, you may lose some or all of your grants."

Cranes over Victoria's downtown are one sign that the construction sector is booming. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Waiting for the perfect moment to build is a balancing act, Young explained. If the project is something vital such as a sewage treatment facility, there is less leeway with price negotiation.

For something non-critical, such as a pedestrian bridge, there are benefits to waiting for a slow down in the economy before proceeding, he added.

No estimates have been given for when the two pedestrians bridges will go ahead.

To listen to the interview with Geoff Young, click on the audio link below:

With files from All Points West