A major part of Sault Transit's played-out passenger bus fleet will be replaced with sleek new vehicles from Winnipeg-based New Flyer Industries Canada ULC.
City Council voted this week to buy six brand-new Xcelsior Diesel 40-foot passenger buses, as well as four 35-foot low-floor buses from the same manufacturer.
They'll be the first New Flyer additions to a well-aged fleet largely comprised of buses built by Nova Bus Inc. of Saint-Eustache, Quebec and the now-defunct Orion Bus Industries of Mississauga.
The ten new vehicles will cost $5.6 million, of which $4.1 million will be paid by the Invest in Canada Infrastructure Program.
New Flyer was lowest bidder among two tenders received for the 40-foot vehicles, and second-lowest among three for the smaller buses.
Brent Lamming, the city's director of community services, said the low bid from Grande West Transportation Group Inc. of Aldergrove B.C. didn't meet the Sault's specifications for components including transmissions, engines and doors.
Lamming tells SooToday the city checked with other municipalities using New Flyer buses and found they're well-pleased with their purchases.
Other steaming McNuggets from this week's City Council meeting:
- city staff were authorized to start work implementing a five-year neighbourhood strategy for the James Street area. A last-minute appeal by retired Justice Ray Stortini for a grocery store and creative arts centre there was briefly noted and then essentially ignored, even though 78 per cent of respondents to a SooToday poll said they preferred his vision, compared to just three per cent favouring the city's strategy. Coun. Shoemaker referred to Jamestown's reputation as a stigmatized area where people are reluctant to spend money. "We would not say the same things about spending money in any other neighbourhood in town," Shoemaker said. "It's been 20, 30, 40 years since significant investment has been made in this neighbourhood. It's time that the city comes to the table to ensure that property values... are stabilized and turned around." That, he said, would benefit the entire community
- Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm White's performance evaluation will be conducted using a freebie toolkit developed by the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators. It's the same process used by the City of Greater Sudbury to ride herd on its CAO Ed Archer. White's performance review will start immediately and be completed by year's end, with goal development slated for January
- a smiley-faced Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker dropped his request that construction of a new traffic light on Great Northern Road be halted until issues about access to Walmart's laneway are resolved. The councillor reported that Walmart has retained a site development company to work on the laneway issue. Shoe ran on: "That is the most encouraging step that we've had to date. It shows that they're serious about this issue."
- what should Sault Ste. Marie do with all that stuff branded with our snazzy new $100,000 logo that SooToday readers say looks like the International Bridge, or a basketball or maybe just a badly sliced pizza? Councillors decided this week to designate the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site as the primary sales location for top-selling products such as T-shirts, golf shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps, masks, magnets, mugs, key chains, water bottles and city pins. The Ermatinger-Clergue gift shop will also serve as a distributor to local tourist sites and other retailers hoping for a slice of the brand's cheesy-pizza popularity
- councillors were advised that Phase 1 funding received from the province is expected to be sufficient to cover the city's costs of dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic, but our net assessment growth has now turned negative
- the city's cultural advisory board will be replaced with a cultural vitality commitee. The new committee will meet more often and is expected to add a representative from Mayor Provenzano's youth advisory council. Nothing was said at this week's meeting, but the city's green committee is also being put out to pasture. City Council will be asked to approve a new entity with a revised mandate
- councillors authorized an agreement with Mr. and Mrs. Genua, new owners of 58 Churchill Ave., allowing continued use of part of their property as a snow-plough turnaround at the end of Lidstone Street. There are similar agreements across the city allowing plough operators to turn around and exit dead-end streets
- proclamations were read recognizing National Francophone Immigration Week and Taoist Tai Chi Arts 50th Anniversary Day