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Three councillors chosen to sit on downtown plaza task force

As protesters stood outside voicing opposition to the plaza, city councillors talked for less than 90 seconds before voting to create a task force to build it
2020-09-25 Dowtown Plaza 2
Design concept for downtown plaza

Three city councillors, and possibly Mayor Christian Provenzano, were approved Monday night as members of a newly created downtown plaza task force.

The original plan was to appoint just two councillors, but Ward 1's Sandra Hollingsworth, Ward 2's Lisa Vezeau-Allen, Ward 3's Donna Hilsinger and the mayor all volunteered to represent the city.

The task force to oversee the plaza's cost and construction schedule was created after hardly 90 seconds of discussion.

Meanwhile, outside the Civic Centre, frustrated ratepayers demanded to know how the $8.4-million project can be a priority when people are dying for lack of proper addiction withdrawal management.

There was some concern there might not be enough room on the task force for four representatives of City Council.

"Is there a problem if we have three councillors on the task force?" the mayor asked Malcolm White, the city's chief administrative officer.

"It's a task force and we do need more than 50 per cent of staff," White responded.

"Just at a glance here," White told the mayor, "it seems to me that we do have that of we have three councillors plus yourself."

"Well I'll tell you this," said Provenzano. "Let's go with all three councillors. And if it's determined we don't have staff, I will step down from it."


There may be protesters today outside the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre, but inside, city councillors will be asked to get on with the work of creating a new downtown plaza.

City Council will be asked to authorize establishment of a task force to build the controversial $8.4 million venue.

Councillors will also be asked to approve the task force's terms of reference. 

If approved tonight, the task force will consist of:

  • Mayor Christian Provenzano
  • two as-yet-undecided ward councillors
  • chief administrative officer Malcolm White
  • deputy CAO for community development and enterprise services Tom Vair
  • deputy CAO for public works and engineering services Larry Girardi
  • chief financial officer and city treasurer Shelley Schell
  • director of community services Brent Lamming
  • director of planning Don McConnell
  • manager of recreation and culture Virginia McCleod
  • manager of facilities and maintenance Jason Mihailiuk

The following, as prepared for tonight's meeting are the proposed terms of reference.

Tonight's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

Terms of Reference - Downtown Plaza Taskforce October 14 2021

On September 27th, City Council passed a resolution that:

Resolved that the report of the deputy CAO, community development and enterprise services dated September 27, 2021 concerning the downtown plaza be received; further that council:

Authorize an additional amount of up to $1,646,000 to come from the Canada Community Building Fund top-up funds to support plaza construction;

Authorize city staff to submit relevant funding applications to support the plaza, including the Rural Economic Development program in the amount of $250,000;

Approve the plaza development with a total project cost of $8,447,068 with a total city contribution of up to $6,993,068 and expected annual operating costs of $265,000;

Authorize staff to finalize the construction drawings and issue a tender for the construction of the downtown plaza with the plaza construction cost and fees estimated to be $7,844,000.


The Downtown Plaza Taskforce (DPT) of the City of Sault Ste. Marie has been established to provide reliable and transparent oversight on the following key issues associated with the Downtown Plaza construction project:

  1. Ensure the project cost and schedule is well managed - the DPT will examine issues such as whether management processes and controls are well designed and followed, contracts are being managed diligently and financial drawdowns comply with the established process
  2. Ensure the cost and schedule risks are being reasonably anticipated and managed – the DPT will examine issues such as whether risks are being sufficiently identified and addressed and ensure adequate contingency to address outstanding project risks

The DPT’s mandate does not include participation in the management of the project. Oversight of health, safety and environment, quality, and regulatory compliance are specifically excluded from the DPT’s scope.


The objectives are to provide reliable and transparent oversight on the cost and schedule performance of the Downtown Plaza Project and to establish a direct and effective communication between the consultants (Brook McIlroy), city administration and mayor and council


The DPT will consist of the following members:

  • mayor and two city councillors
  • CAO
  • deputy CAO, CDES
  • deputy CAO, PWES
  • chief financial officer/city treasurer
  • director, community services
  • director, planning
  • manager, recreation and culture
  • manager, facilities and maintenance


Meetings will be chaired by the Deputy CAO, CDES.

The DPT will meet on a schedule to be determined by the DPT in co-operation with the consultants. Meetings will be minuted by the office supervisor of community development & enterprise services (CDES) or his/her delegate.

Information Requirements

The DPT’s information requirements may be summarized as follows:

Cost Information

  • baseline budget as developed by consultants in conjunction with city staff and approved by mayor and council
  • cost reporting showing in period and cumulative data for the following: baseline budget changes, cost to complete, final forecast cost, and variance
  • contingency draw log, report of planned vs. consumed contingency
  • contract and work package level cost reporting including: original commitments, change orders, revised commitments and invoiced and incurred to date
  • rolling cash flow - forecast and planned versus actual
  • funding request log for tracking funding draws
  • variance analysis and corrective action for all material cost variances

Schedule Information

  • schedule development and control plan including schedule specification, basis of schedule and assumptions
  • schedule milestone report showing baseline finish, actual/forecast start and finish, variance, percentage complete, critical and sub-critical path, with further levels of detail available as requested
  • performance report showing performance, trend and forecast where available for program as a whole and each material contract work package
  • variance and analysis and corrective action for all material schedule variances

Other Information

  • standard project monthly progress report (including health and safety, environment, scope & change, cost, schedule, quality, risk and contract reports)
  • progress reporting of material sub-contractors
  • project work breakdown structure
  • project policies, plans and procedures
  • project execution and contracting strategies
  • change orders
  • engineering reports
  • notification of award of: material contracts/value of other contracts
  • issues log or other established reports for recording and managing issues
  • other information as the DPT may from time to time require

Existing Oversight

The City of Sault Ste. Marie will provide oversight for this project from inception.

The consultants will provide contract administration services and the contracted firm will be responsible for the oversight of the construction of the downtown plaza project. The City of Sault Ste. Marie and the consultants are responsible for determining whether the organizations network of risk management, control and governance processes is adequate and functioning as intended.

A smaller sub-group, the Downtown Plaza Construction Taskforce, will look after more immediate construction related meetings/requests from the consultants and selected plaza construction firm.

Cost, schedule performance, forecasts and risk management oversight

The DPT’s role is focused on the project’s cost and schedule performance therefore the DPT’s mandate includes:

  • are the project costs, schedule and risks well managed?
  • working with consultants to ensure process and controls are well designed
  • ensuring adherence to process and controls during the construction of the project
  • evaluating and recommending diligent contract management
  • ensuring financial draws comply with established financial procedures
  • evaluating schedule performance and forecasts adherence to the plan
  • comparison of cost performance and forecasts compare to project baselines
  • evaluating cost and schedule forecasts against current performance
  • evaluating whether cash flow forecasts adequately reflect the project’s funding requirements
  • to evaluate whether schedule risks are being reasonably anticipated and managed
  • evaluate whether risks are being sufficiently identified and addressed
  • evaluate whether there is adequate contingency in place to address the outstanding project risks

Reporting Protocol

The consultants will provide access to all the information requested by the DPT on a regular basis.

The DPT will compare project cost and schedule performance to the capital budget and project schedule.

The DPT will align its information requirements with the consultant’s reporting rhythm.