Minister understands community frustrations
Education Minister Ramona Jennex is hoping the tender for the stalled River Hebert school project.
RIVER HEBERT – Education Minister Ramona Jennex is pledging renovations to River Hebert School will be completed as soon as possible.
“I know how frustrating it is that this project has been held up as long as it has and I understand the frustrations of the people in the community. As I have said before we remain committed to making sure they get the best facility they can,” Jennex said.
The minister said the project’s management committee recently submitted the tender information to the Department of Education and she’s hopeful the tenders will approved so they can be called soon.
While she’s not sure how long it will be before the tender will be called, she said it will not be impacted by a provincial election that could be called in the next week or so.
“There were a number of problems with this program right from the start,” Jennex said. “We’ve been working with the school board to work through those problems and get this project back on track so the community will have its school completed.”
The project has been on hold for more than two years after a tender for the next phase of the renovation project came in much higher than budgeted.
After dismissing the previous primary consultant in April, the board hired Stantec Consulting Ltd. to continue the process. Stantec, which had been working as part of the consultant team on the project, reviewed the status of the documents and developed a schedule indicating the tender drawings and specifications would be finalized by late June.
Once the department reviews and approves the documents, the school board will call for requests for proposals and put the project to the market.
Depending on the tenders when they’re called, it’s possible construction could resume in the fall. However, if the tenders come in higher again, the project would go back to Treasury Board for additional funds if they’re available.
Jennex doesn’t believe that’s going to happen, especially if the tender process is properly done.
“When you put a tender out that’s written appropriately for what’s needed that shouldn’t be a problem,” she said.
With an election coming, it’s likely the project will be an issue.
Last weekend, Cumberland South MLA and PC Party leader Jamie Baillie said a Conservative government would complete the project, and if the tender is not called before the election he would call it immediately after if he becomes premier.
He said he can’t understand what the delay is considering the board submitted its documents to the department in June.
Jennex said she plans to meet with her department staff as soon as possible to get an update on the project, and like Baillie she doesn’t want to see it held up any longer.
“An election won’t impact the process because it’s managed by the school board,” she said. “The province manages new projects, but renovations and alterations are managed by the school board with the department providing support and expertise when needed.”