The City of Nelson has learned the hard way that it should have hired outside contractors to repair the damage caused by flooding and unusually high river levels last year.
Provincial Emergency Program funding was available to cover some of the remediation costs. But if that work was done by city crews, it’s not eligible for reimbursement.
The city’s chief financial officer Colin McClure submitted a claim for around $280,000 in expenses, but the province only covered about $130,000.
He said it seems counter-intuitive to hire a contractor to do something city crews could handle on their own, but that’s what they’ll need to do in the future to access the funding.
“Instead of looking at our own employees — who are great workers and have all the experience and tools necessary to do it — we’ll have to go to a third party because they [the province] will definitely pay a third party invoice, even if it’s more expensive than using our own staff,” McClure explained.
The province prefers to cover contractor fees because it prevents municipalities from abusing the funding by claiming their crews were working on disaster remediation when they were actually just carrying out their regular duties.
“The policy is there because somebody probably abused it in the past,” McClure said. “It’s poor legislation and it’s penalizing us for using our own expertise.”