Brockville Ontario - A plan to hire a consultant, at a cost of nearly $85,000, to draw up plans for the next phase of the historic railway tunnel project returns to the council table on Tuesday.
Council's finance, administration, and operations committee will discuss a motion to hire MTBA Associates Inc., for $84,765, "to develop concepts for the former railway lands northeast of William and Brock Streets, including a public consultation process."
It would be the next step in preparing for the second phase of a tunnel restoration process that is currently underway.
That first phase aims to rehabilitate and restore the railway tunnel, considered Canada's oldest, and its north portal gorge.
Workers are to secure the tunnel structurally, put in lighting and security cameras, and lay down a paved walkway.
The first phase is also to include the purchase of the "Rotary Train," a rubber-wheeled vehicle that will ferry tourists between the north and south ends of the tunnel.
In November, city council gave the tunnel committee permission to increase the cost of the first phase from $2,500,000 to $3,974,496, in order to add an elaborate lighting system.
The city has so far committed $300,000 toward the tunnel project.
But in early December, another council committee, the economic development and planning committee, stopped short of endorsing the hiring of MTBA for work on Phase Two.
Some members felt the tunnel restoration group was jumping the gun on the second phase, while others wanted more information on fund raising and the donors who have committed.
Councillor David LeSueur, chairman of the mostly citizen-run Brockville Railway Tunnel Committee, said tunnel supporters plan to deliver plenty of information at Tuesday's meeting of the finance committee, the council body that would have dealt with this in December had its meeting not been cancelled.
Jack Kenny, another tunnel committee member, will update councillors on the project Tuesday, including a list of donors and the range of their donations.
It has two donors, the Carolyn Sifton Foundation and Philips Lighting Canada, which is doing the lighting work on Phase One, as being in the $500,000 and over range.
The tunnel group has so far secured more than $3.5 million in pledges and donations for the project, and is on track to have the first phase done on time for the 10-13 Aug 2017 celebrations of Canada's 150th anniversary, it notes in a report to the finance committee.
The tunnel group plans to pay for the MTBA work from money it obtained in a senior government grant.
"The key issue is we want to do it right," LeSueur said Friday, adding tunnel committee members are not qualified to design the second phase of the project.
LeSueur again rejected criticism his group is jumping the gun by proceeding to the second phase while the first is not yet complete.
"We'd like to keep the momentum going and the vision. There's no need to stop," said LeSueur.
"We might as well get some of the planning and other things done now."
Mayor David Henderson said Friday the tunnel project proponents are expected to bring some clarity about what work is included in which phase, adding some of the work initially conceived as Phase Two might actually be part of a third phase.
"I think they have taken some major steps to satisfy the hesitancy" of councillors, added the mayor.