The City of Swift Current announced on Thursday that a revision has been made to projects included in its 2020 Capital Plan due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on gatherings put in place.

The original list of projects had an overall cost of $22.7-million. The administrative review has shifted approximately $7-million worth of work either to later this year or into 2021.

"Some we wanted to get done this year and we simply can't because work restrictions or the availability of materials just doesn't allow it," said City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer, Tim Marcus. "And assuming that construction season is four months instead of six months - how do we prioritize the work that we need to get done in the four months?"

"We kind of targeted a lot of the projects on a priority basis based on the work restrictions coming off at certain times, and said that if this is the case, then we would like to get these projects done during the construction season before the weather turns and a lot of the outdoor projects can't be done," he added.

The City's April 8 release categorized projects into four groups:

  • Need to move forward this year,
  • Unable to be accomplished this year,
  • Able to be done later in the year once restrictions are lifted, and
  • Able to be accomplished under current the current restrictions

One of the bigger jobs being pushed into 2021 is work on the North Hill Reservoir, which Marcus notes accounts for approximately $2-million of the $7-million deferral. Despite such a large chunk of the budget being pushed into the following calendar year, Marcus said city residents shouldn't feel any effects from that deferral.

"It's a project that allows us to develop more property in the northeast by providing more stable water pressure in the areas around the highway and in the northeast that is where all the development is," he said. "By delaying it one year, it won't really change anything - everything that exists today, operations are normal. It was just helping us prepare for the future."

There are also several projects that are up in the air, which Marcus noted were grant-dependent. The City's C.A.O. said it's not necessarily about needing to re-apply for those grants to get the work done, it's more just waiting to see if the respective level of government's able to fill the funding of the grants during the pandemic.

"If the money came forward we would move ahead - we're just not sure in all of this where the government's going to be in terms of providing those programs based on all the new programs and funding that they're shifting moneys to," Marcus said. "It may not come around with that money until a future date or later in the year when you might secure the grant funding, but you won't be able to get the work done until 2021."

Marcus added that it's a 'wait and see' approach to the possibility that those grants may fail to secure funding from the government.

"That's always a possibility. We're hopeful that they'll want to get the economy going and provide the grant money in order to get some people back to work. But, it's kind of too early to tell - they're focused on some other things and rightfully so."

With a reduced slate of construction and projects currently set for the coming months, Marcus did admit that there's a positive in the deferral to later this year or 2021.

"Some of the work that can be done under the current regulations makes it much more expensive to get done. On that basis, if we can delay it to where it wouldn't be as pricey to get it done after the work restrictions are lifted, then that's our plan - rather than have to pay extra just to get the work done now, when it can be done at a more reasonable cost in the future."

With the ever-changing landscape of this pandemic, Marcus said he and the City would revisit the current plan in the second half of May to see what alterations need to be, or should be made.

"By then, if we know the work restrictions are in place till the middle of July, then we'll go through the list of projects again, and knowing that some of them will just not be able to get done, simply because there's not enough time left," he said. "We don't have a specific cut-off date, but based on our current plan, we're assuming that by the end of May, that some restrictions are off and we can start doing some of the Capital work that we put on hold."

In the meantime, Marcus added that the City would continue to do facility upgrades while closures were in effect - namely on arenas, before ice was put back in the fall.