SANDRA M STANWAY
Lite Access, the City of Brooks and Community Networks Partners Inc. (CNPI) have parted ways in the ongoing fibre optic installation project.
“As a result of ongoing reviews of all current projects by new management, it has been determined that due to today’s environment and market volatility it is in the best interests of Lite Access shareholders to end the contract with Brooks and CNPI,” states a Lite Access press release.
“Although progress was made on the build-out of the fibre optic network, all parties involved believed a change was needed for the continued build-out of the project.
“We at Lite Access would like to thank Brooks and CNPI for their efforts in coming to an amicable resolution for all parties,” said Lite Access CEO Mike Plotnikoff.
Brooks CAO Alan Martens said that Lite Access as the general contractor, ran into supply chain issues.
That led to some of the vendors not being paid and one vendor, Delta Irrigation, filing a Statement of Claim against Lite Access, City of Brooks and CNPI in August for $504,158.68 plus expenses including $200,000 in punitive damages.
Martens said Delta has been paid $446,637 which includes $157,797 by the city.
He said the payment dragged on when the bond holder learned that the city would sever ties with the company and choose a new contractor, however, the separation was amicable.
“We both agreed that the struggles they were having with the supply chain it would be in both parties interest to sever the relationship,” he said.
“It was very complex. We’re finally back on track,” said Martens.
The fibre optic installation is about two months behind schedule.
Close to nine per cent of the conduit has now been installed and Canadian Western Infrastructure Inc. which moved up from a sub-contractor to general contractor, has been working to make up the loss of time before winter.
“They are still hoping they can be done by the end of 2023 but to hit that, I think the weather’s really going to have to cooperate otherwise, I think we’re going to be going into the spring of 2024,” Martens said.
The city’s project budget of $5.4 million will increase due to inflation caused by the supply chain issues, additional legal costs and the there will be an additional 7,000 metres of conduit required.
“We will definitely be over. We didn’t pay Lite Access extra money but with the supply chain issues we’re are definitely going to be over.
“I’m going to calculate that and take it to an October council meeting to see if we can get a budget adjustment.”
Martens said registration for the build has been pretty slow but he expects that it will increase when they are in the position to connect people.
“If we get to the point where we’ve got lots of potential to connect people and it’s slow then we’ll be more concerned,” he said.
He said even if only a few people connect to the system the city will not create a new utility for broadband.
“I can’t see us doing that. That has never even been talked about,” Martens said.
SANDRA M STANWAY