Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: July 15, 1997

Dept No:

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: General Manager of Engineering Services

SUBJECT: 1997 - 1999 Waterworks Capital Plan Implementation


THAT the temporary Civil Engineer I and Engineering Assistant II positions in the Waterworks Design Branch be made permanent, at an annual cost of approximately $110,000, to be recovered from Waterworks Capital through the existing overhead loading rate.


The General Manager of Engineering Services RECOMMENDS approval of the foregoing.


The City water system operates as a utility, with all costs recovered through its rates and fees, and borrowing authority approved by Council.

In September 1996, Council approved the 1997 - 1999 Waterworks Capital Plan, at a total cost of $74.1 million.

In May 1994, Council approved the creation of a Civil Engineer I and an Engineering Assistant II position in the Waterworks Design Branch, as part of the 1994 - 1996 CapitalPlan implementation, subject to the availability of outside cost-sharing.


The purpose of this report is to obtain approval to maintain the existing staffing in the Waterworks Design Branch of Engineering Services, in order to carry out the increased Capital Programs approved in the 1997 - 1999 Capital Plan and future Capital Plans.


The Waterworks Capital Plan addresses four major programs: infrastructure replacement, addressing growth, emergency planning, and customer connections and other works. The 1994-1996 Waterworks Capital Plan consisted of $53.7 million of City funding, plus anticipated senior government cost sharing of $12.7 million, for a total of $66.4 million. This was significantly higher than the 1991-93 Waterworks Capital Plan which totalled $36.5m. As a result of the increase in the size of the 1994-96 Waterworks Capital Plan, additional staffing, consisting of five technical and support positions, was approved by Council in May 1994. Two of these positions, a Civil Engineer I and an Engineering Assistant II, were temporary subject to senior government cost-sharing. The approved Council recommendation stated the following:

"THAT the creation of a Civil Engineer I and Engineering Assistant II be approved in the Waterworks Design Branch to undertake the work in the 1994 - 1996 Waterworks Capital Plan, at an additional cost of $56,000 in 1994 and with an ongoing additional cost of $96,100 per year, but that these positions not be filled until cost-sharing from outside sources is available."

This was subsequently modified by a Manager’s Minute, which approved filling the positions, on a temporary basis, in advance of the cost-sharing approvals. The purpose of filling the positions in advance was to undertake design work required to ensure that the projects could be completed within the Infrastructure Program deadline, once they were approved. Permanently retaining the positions remained subject to receiving the outside cost-sharing.

The senior government cost-sharing was anticipated from the Federal Infrastructure Program, but none was received for Vancouver’s water system. In the interim, several other positions were vacant in the branch, thus eliminating the incumbents’ positions was not immediately necessary to stay within staffing budgets and overhead loading rates. This report is to request that the two positions be approved as regular, full time, due to the workload associated with the 1997-1999 Capital Plan, which is anticipated to be an ongoing level in future Capital Plans as well.


The 1997 - 1999 Waterworks Capital Plan, totalling $74.1 million, was approved by Council in September 1996. This plan represents a $20.4 million increase in City funding over the 1994 - 1996 Plan, primarily in the areas of infrastructure replacement and the Dedicated Fire Protection System (DFPS). The 1997-99 Waterworks Capital Plan increases the water system aging infrastructure replacement program up to 1.5% per year, the recommended level for an efficient life-cycle replacement program. Funding for the DFPS program is consistent with the 12-year implementation structure approved at the onset of the project.

These programs represent a continuing higher level of capital construction than was undertaken in previous plans. Staff has reviewed what resources are required to undertake this work, and believe that the programs can be accomplished without any increase in the existing design and administrative staff levels approved in 1994, if the two positions which were temporary are retained. Some consulting assistance for the design of the DFPS system, and a blend of City and private construction forces would continue.

The current level of construction activity is expected to continue in future Waterworks Capital Plans, as the 1.5% life-cycle infrastructure replacement policy will be continued in order to maintain efficient water service within the City. The DFPS construction program is expected to continue for eight more years, and other programs within the Capital Plan have been developed with the goal of maintaining consistent funding needs over the long term, rather than peaks which are more difficult to accommodate. As a result, it is recommended that the two temporary positions that were approved for the 1994-96 Waterworks Capital Plan be made permanent positions within the Waterworks Design Branch. These positions will be required for the duration of the 1997-99 Waterworks Capital Plan and for future Plans.

The recommended staffing level can be funded within the existing 10% overhead loading rate on Waterworks capital works. Staff believe that this represents good value to the City, since typical engineering consulting costs are in the order of 20% of project values.

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