City scrambling after oversight leads to water pressure problems in Whitehorse

A rushed upgrade to a water pump station will cost the city 80 per cent more than originally budgeted.

Problems arose from oversight in 2015 pre-planning for Whistle Bend continuing care facility

The McIntyre Creek pump station needs an upgrade, and quickly. The City of Whitehorse wants it to be done by the summer of 2019 (submitted by Geoff Quinsey)

The City of Whitehorse is scrambling to fix a water pressure problem in part of the city, and some city councillors feel like they've been backed into a corner by poor planning.  

Geoff Quinsey, the manager of waste and water services for the city, calls the situation "very unusual."

Council is being asked to approve a contract that is projected to cost $375,231 — almost double the original budget of $207,258 — to upgrade the McIntyre Creek pump station. The city only received one bid for the contract.

The McIntyre Creek pump station brings in water to the Porter Creek reservoir. In the past, that reservoir only provided water to the Porter Creek and Kulan industrial subdivisions. But now, a new water main from the reservoir supplies water to the Whistle Bend continuing care facility, which opened last summer. 

That has increased demand on the McIntyre Creek pump station, and lessened overall water pressure in the reservoir.

The upgrade work is required immediately, because if there is a big fire in Porter Creek or Whistle Bend, there wouldn't be enough water pressure to fight it, Quinsey said. 

"We would have preferred to see these upgrades completed prior to the commissioning of the Porter Creek to Whistle Bend water main."

Report 'wasn't quite perfect'

He said the water main was commissioned before the pump station was upgraded because the 2015 pre-design plan for the Whistle Bend neighbourhood didn't include anything about the McIntyre Creek pump station. That was an oversight, he said.

"The pre-design report wasn't quite perfect and so this need was not identified in a timely fashion," said Quinsey.

The city put out a request for proposals to upgrade the pump station last summer.

Duncan's Ltd., a local contractor, was the only company that bid, but its proposal was too expensive so the city cancelled the tender and issued a new one. Again, Duncan's was the only company to bid, but it couldn't meet the city's timeline, so the second tender was cancelled.

Geoff Quinsey is the manager for waste and water services for the city of Whitehorse. (submitted by Geoff Quinsey)

Quinsey said it's a priority to have the upgrades done by next summer, so the city reached out to Duncan's to negotiate a new price and timeline.  

Councillor Jocelyn Curteanu had questions about that at Monday's council meeting. She asked Quinsey if the city reached out to other contractors to negotiate a new deal. Quinsey said they didn't.

Councillor Samson Hartland asked Quinsey if council even had a choice but to hire Duncan's.

"Help me understand our commitment level when we negotiate this kind of unusual arrangement," Hartland said. "Are we essentially committed to this, or does it depend on a council vote?"

Quinsey said the city was clear when it negotiated the deal that it needed council approval.

Councillors will vote on Monday.

Construction on the continuing care facility in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood started in 2016. It gets its water from the Porter Creek reservoir, which increases demand on the McIntyre Creek pump station. The city didn't put out a tender to upgrade the pump station until the summer of 2018. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)


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