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The backstop’s here

Breakdown in council process and communication costs Pemberton almost $6,000

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The Village of Pemberton was surprised to receive an invoice for nearly $20,000 – 40 per cent higher than the quoted price – for a baseball backstop.

The backstop, installed to support the joint VOP-Mount Currie Fun Day held in May, had an initial quote of $13,000. This figure was suggested to the contractor through a budget presented by the school board.

Due to time constraints, Whistler Welding Services was the only company contacted despite the VOP commitment to a three-quote process. The final invoice from the welding company was $19,927.27 (GST included). Three thousand dollars of that went to increase fencing along the first and third base lines, making the baseball diamond safer for both spectators and players.

A letter from the contracted company to the VOP references the extension of the fencing as a change the company had assumed agreeable before the project was green lit. The letter attributes the cost over runs to additional materials costs of $3,000 and the necessary overtime to ensure a structure that was functional and safe, as well as being ready in time for the event.

"I’m disappointed that the quote wasn’t met," said Councillor Lynda Chandler. "I think this is a valuable lesson. We didn’t get three quotes and it’s costing us five-and-a-half thousand more. We have to pay them for the work they did."

While three quotes might have kept with the council’s policy, it would not have necessarily changed the final bill. Nearly $20,000 for a new baseball backstop with wings is clearly "in the ballpark," according to two Lower Mainland fencing companies, Progressive Fence installations and Western Fence and Gate. Representatives from both companies commented on the labour intensive nature of manufacturing backstops and recommended that welding and extensive concrete be employed to ensure the strength and longevity of the structure.

Councillor Mark Blundell spoke to a motion put forward by Chandler calling for the invoice to be referred back to the finance committee and that funds be found to pay the outstanding invoice.

"I won’t be supporting paying an additional $6,000. We have a written quote. I make written quotes all the time, if I go over quote I eat it," said the owner of the Pemberton Valley Supermarket.

The motion passed with an amendment by Mayor Elinor Warner to simply refer the item back to the finance committee.

Funding of the initial $13,000 for the backstop had come from the school board, the VOP and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. School District 48 put up $6,000, the Recreation Commission made a grant for $1,000 and the remaining $6,000 was shared equally between the VOP and SLRD. The VOP is solely responsible for the outstanding funds.

"We haven’t had the opportunity to meet and discuss where the other money could come from. Whistler Welding has been paid. The initial quote of $13,000, which, with GST came to $14,070.60, has been paid," said Cecile Arnott, director of finances for the VOP.

The new playing field has come under criticism as having an infield where traction is difficult. David Allan, director of development, says that he believes this can be corrected fairly easily by augmenting the current fill to give it a more solid feel though an organic additive such as pumice.

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