By: Mike Anderson

It was a nip and tuck affair, but the town will have new LED holiday decorations up in time for Christmas after all.

But it’s scaling back its initial plan to put up 54 of the holiday lights.

That’s because the cost of mounting them has skyrocketed 200 per cent.

After spending $70,000 on the new lights, the town discovered this fall that its hydro poles would need electrical upgrades – new conduits and GFIs – for the lights to work.

Initially, the cost estimate was $30,000 — about $550 per pole.

Based on that number, council approved the electrical upgrades — after all, nobody wanted dark streets for the holidays.

But the clock was ticking. So, in the interests of expediency, the town waived competitive bids and awarded the work to two electrical contractors.

Now, that decision is proving to be costly.

The final bill may come in at $90,000, according to Rob Flindall, the town’s director of operations and infrastructure, who broke the bad news to council on Nov 27.

To stem the bleeding, council has halted the upgrades once 35 poles are completed, asking staff to wait until January to tender the work for the remaining 19 poles – hoping competitive bids will bring in a lower price.

That means the downtown areas of Keswick, Sutton, Jackson’s Point and Pefferlaw will have to share 35 holiday lights between them – not ideal, but better than nothing.

Another company will install the new LED decorations once the electrical work is complete – the 35 lights should be up by Dec 15. The remaining 19 lights will stay in their boxes until next year.

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