Edmonton councillor worries about construction costs, delays due to COVID-19

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The economics of COVID-19 are expected to hit Edmonton City Hall soon. That’s according to Councillor Mike Nickel, who will launch an inquiry at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

He said he’s reached out to overseas contacts in manufacturing and construction, who believe the supply chain of products will drastically impact Edmonton’s upcoming construction projects because factories and plants are sitting empty.

READ MORE: Edmonton businesses seeing impact of China manufacturing disruptions from coronavirus

“I know it takes eight to 10 weeks to get a container here from China. So if you run out of something, it’s not like you can go down to Costco and pick it up.”

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Nickel wants to make sure city contracts and department directors who approve purchase orders can roll with delays so it doesn’t hurt taxpayers.

“This is not just about material management; this is about procurement,” Nickel said.

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“If material doesn’t show up, for example, guys get laid off. There’s that too. So you’ve got to worry about the whole chain from start to finish.

“What happens if the Port of Vancouver gets shut down? Then we get nothing in. So you have to manage the contracts, the whole project, the contractors, the vendors. My motion is basically saying: ‘Administration, reach out to your vendors and your partners, and make sure everything is on track, and if it’s not, let us know now.'”

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Interim city manager Adam Laughlin said that type of issue hasn’t shown up yet in Edmonton, however he confirms they are aware of the potential.

“We’re not seeing an impact but we’re certainly attentive to it and aware of it.”

City of Edmonton monitoring COVID-19 developments
City of Edmonton monitoring COVID-19 developments

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Nickel said an example of a local project being delayed by material not showing up on time was the Walterdale Bridge. It wound up two years behind schedule.

“This is the beginning of the arc, as I call it. The beginning of the problem. Getting in front of it is better than surprising council with a hit on the price tag after,” Nickel said.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Global supply and demand impacted by COVID-19, IMF managing director says