City blames former planner for transportation review's cost overruns

The integrated mobility plan was supposed to cost $350K, but the bill is now $550K.

Integrated mobility plan supposed to cost $350K, but bill is now $550K

Robert Bjerke, the HRM's former director of planning, left his job in August. (Twitter)

The cost overrun on a review of Halifax's transportation network is being blamed on Bob Bjerke, the former chief planner.

The work on the integrated mobility plan was supposed to total $350,000. The bill is now $550,000. 

The acting director of planning says the project did not get enough oversight.

"The level of scrutiny that should have been there wasn't present," said Kelly Denty.

Bjerke was the project manager until he and the municipality parted ways in August, for reasons that have never been made public.

A review of the integrated mobility plan was supposed to total $350,000, but the bill now stands at $550,000. (CBC)

The initial contracts with McPhail Transportation Planning Services and 02 Planning and Design were extended several times between the fall of 2016 and the summer of 2017. A number of additional purchase orders were also put through. 

Bjerke's role in the project alarmed Coun. Steve Adams, who thinks it needs more discussion behind closed doors.

"I know we're treading on thin ice here," said Adams, "but I think this extends beyond just this particular issue."

But in order to get a final report on the integrated mobility plan, the audit and finance committee was asked on Tuesday to approve an additional $112,000. That includes $13,000 for McPhail to make a presentation to regional council. 

That bill irritated Councillor Matt Whitman.

"It doesn't sit well, knowing that number. I wish I didn't, to be honest," said Whitman.  

The presentation is expected to be made to regional council on Dec. 5.