To ‘cattail’ or not to ‘cattail,’ that was Big Valley’s question

Cattails/file photo
Written by Stu Salkeld

The problem posed by cattails eventually became the deciding factor in the Village of Big Valley council’s awarding of an infrastructure study tender. The decision was made at the June 8 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald presented to councillors the results of a tender for an infrastructure study, a subject of discussion at the Big Valley council table for years.

The infrastructure study would be conducted by engineers to gauge the condition of the municipality’s roads, water lines and many other important points of infrastructure. The study offers a firm grasp of what important work needs to be done in the future.

“After receiving confirmation that we were successful in our application for grant funding, council provided direction for administration to get proposals from MPE and Tagish Engineering that would indicate what they could produce for the budget provided,” stated Macdonald’s report to council.

“Both firms have submitted a study for council to review and once council has selected the firm, we can have them start the work on the study. We have received $150,000 of the $200,000 and the balance will be transferred to us once we submit reporting for the portion that has been released.”

As councillors examined the two engineer’s proposals it became clear they were extremely similar. In fact, the CAO noted the two bids were within $100 of each other. Both tender amounts were under $200,000 but the exact figures were not available by press time.

However, upon closer examination it became clear there were some differences that could make a huge difference to the taxpayers of Big Valley.

Macdonald noted Tagish Engineering specified that before they could begin work with the Big Valley lagoon the village must have vegetation near the “centre part” of the lagoon cleared out.

Macdonald stated the village is already having some trouble finding a contractor that can clear out all of the vegetation in question, and even if a contractor is found it’s suspected the price tag to have all of the vegetation in the lagoon cleared out could cost $50,000.

The CAO noted that $50,000 essentially needed to be added to Tagish Engineering’s quote, but that was primarily the only difference between the bids.

“Otherwise, they’re pretty much mirror images of each other,” said Macdonald.

The CAO further noted that the Tagish Engineering bid included some extras in their offer but they were not necessary to the infrastructure study.

As councillors discussed the issue it was clarified the vegetation in question was cattails, well-known for growing in lagoons, ponds and other water bodies.

Coun. Clark German, as he examined the proposals, noted MPE seemed to have more experience and personnel for this work.

Mayor Dan Houle stated he wanted to ensure the engineers of both companies were familiar with what infrastructure tests Big Valley could handle, and also noted that ownership of some structures around town needed to be clarified. Houle also suggested the village find out if MPE had a problem with the cattails too.

The CAO noted the lagoon work is an important part of the infrastructure study and can’t be put off. Therefore, she phoned the MPE representatives during the council meeting to ask if MPE also wanted the cattails cleaned out of the lagoon before study work is begun.

The call was placed on speaker phone during the council meeting and the MPE representative could be heard noting MPE didn’t need the cattails cleaned out beforehand.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution rewarding the Village of Big Valley infrastructure study to MPE.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.