Tender calls signals Icefields trail already a done deal
Thursday, Apr 20, 2017 06:00 am
Parks Canada is actively seeking a civil engineering firm to design a paved path between Jasper and the Columbia Icefield in what appears to be a growing trail of evidence suggesting this project is a done deal even though public consultation is ongoing.
A tender call by Public Works & Government Services Canada (PWGSC) on buyandsell.gc.ca – a site used for government purchases – essentially starts the construction procedure, showing Parks Canada has every intention of designing and building the trail.
The bid document, which went up in March and has a June 9 deadline, says Parks Canada has identified the need for consultant services in the delivery of an approximately109-km long multi-purpose trail from Jasper to Wilcox campground.
“A future second phase, not included in this contract, will complete the Icefields Trail, to the Municipality of Lake Louise in Banff National Park,” it reads.
The tender document says public comments will be fed into a detailed impact analysis and also summarized by PWGSC and Parks Canada.
“The consultant must incorporate these mitigation measures into the detailed design,” according to the tender document.
Parks Canada’s public consultations on the trail continue until April 24 and the public can comment online at www.pc.gc.ca/jasper.
Once information from the first round of consultations has been compiled, it will be fed into the draft detailed impact analysis, which will be available for comment in mid- to late summer 2017.
Meaghan Bradley, a media spokesperson from Parks Canada’s head office, said a tender was issued for the design of the proposed trail so they can be “well positioned to deliver the project if, and only if, the decision is taken to move forward” based on results of consultation.
Meanwhile, a memo from Parks CEO Daniel Watson to Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, obtained under Access to Information legislation, outlines how the project came to be.
The memo, which was dubbed secret, was in response to a request from McKenna for information on the project, including “the background of the project, its inclusion in budget 2016 and next steps.”
Watson wrote that in December 2014 executives in the mountain parks discussed a concept for the construction of a 230-kilometre trail from Jasper to Lake Louise. The estimated cost in 2014 over a four-year period was $160 million, according to the memo.
“As no source of funds to support the initiative was available at the time, it did not advance,” wrote Watson.
Watson said Parks Canada revisited the 2014 proposal in 2016 in light of a request by the federal finance department for infrastructure projects that could be implemented within two years.
Given the two-year time constraint, he said Parks Canada submitted a proposal with a reduced scope of work than the original proposal, specifically a 107-km section of trail from Jasper to the Columbia Icefield over three years.
“The funding program included the environmental assessment and design work for the 130-km segment from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre to Lake Louise,” he wrote.
“Due to time constraints, construction costs required to complete this segment of the trail were not included in the proposal.”
Watson said Parks Canada’s 2016 budget proposal was for $65.9 million for the first two years of the project, with Parks Canada investing $20.5 million for the third year, for a total cost of $86.4 million.