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Boulevard dam repairs go ahead

Local company secures work with bid millions lower than competitors’.
Boulevard Dam
The walkway over the Boulevard Lake dam is expected to be closed for two years for dam repairs. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – Repair work on the Boulevard Lake dam will go ahead this summer, after a local company secured the contract with a tendered cost of around $7.2 million. That’s more than $5 million lower than the next lowest tender – and more than $6 million below initial city estimates.

Before approving the project at Monday night’s meeting, city councillors looked for assurance the tender wasn’t too good to be true. City project engineer Mike Vogrig told councillors after an hours-long meeting with the local numbered company, operating as Concrete Walls, administration was “very confident” it could do the work at that price.

Vogrig said having assets in place locally helped the company save costs, saying some other bidders would have faced higher overhead bringing workers into Thunder Bay from other cities. He also praised the company for “sharpening their pencils” to secure the work.

Additional costs for archaeological and heritage work, along with contract administration and inspection, are expected to bump the total cost of the project to just over $7.7 million. About 40 per cent of that cost will be covered by federal funds secured through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

The concrete and structural repairs to the dam will close the walkway that runs over it for two seasons, while the beach is expected to be closed only in 2020 as the lake is drained. Fort William First Nation and the Metis Nation of Ontario will be involved in examining the site for archaeological significance during that phase of work.

Park users will also see improvements once the work is complete. The city is using the opportunity to widen the path over the dam to standard trail width and install path lighting, as well as some aesthetic lighting on the dam itself. The gatehouse adjacent to the dam is also expected to be demolished and replaced with a viewing area.

“This is a huge project, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to finally see it in front of us tonight,” said Current River councillor Andrew Foulds. “I’m really hopeful when this is done, with the widened top and the lights, this is one of those pieces of infrastructure people don’t just walk over - they’re able to take in the vistas and enjoy the beautiful asset that is Boulevard Lake.”