The soaring cost of copper cost the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, $100,000 on Monday night (April 27). 

The City council voted 9-1 to provide the money to Friends of Chippewa Park (FOCP) to upgrade the electrical systems feeding power to campsites at the RV park now under construction and scheduled to open later this summer, according to KCPR, Thunder Bay. 

Friends of Chippewa must pay Thunder Bay Hydro $76,050 to bring the three-pronged service into the park. The remainder of the money, which emptied the Community Partnership fund, will be used to add trees and fire pits to the sites. 

The decision overturned the council’s recommendation to deny the money be given to Friends of Chippewa and instead do the work under city auspices in 2010. 

The council decided it was more prudent to go ahead with the work immediately, get the park open and drawing revenue. 

“This is probably the best use of this money,” said Mayor Lynn Peterson. “It’s very clear that this package will be finished sooner and less expensively if we do it now.” 

Bill Lafontaine, president of FOCP, said the last place he wanted to be was sitting in front of the council asking for more money from the city, which has already contributed between $1.2 million and $1.3 million to a project that has already run up a $6.3 million tab. 

“I didn’t even want to be here this year asking for this amount,” Lafontaine said. “We did not anticipate the cost of the electrical work and the redesign.” 

According to Lafontaine, the original estimate to provide 50-amp electrical service to the 27 campsites was $72,000. By the time they were ready to start, it had ballooned to $180,000, a $108,000 increase. Working with Thunder Bay Hydro and other partners, that number was whittled down $50,000 to $130,000. 

The frost that arrived in December further delayed the project until this spring. 

Lafontaine said had the city not required a pair of redesigns on the project, much of the increased costs likely could have been avoided. He blamed city administration for dragging it out. 

“We had anticipated more cooperation. We’ve worked with them for a whole year since we got the first allotment of money, and it was through basically their redesign and their requests and everything that sent the costs up that we weren’t anticipating,” Lafontaine said. 

Councilman Lain Angus, a former chair of FOCP who still maintains ties with the organization, said city-owned park’s budget calls for $20,000 in revenue in its first year, ramping up to $40,000 in future years. 

“It’s a one-of-a-kind RV park in Canada,” he added. 

“All of these sites here will be 50-amp service, so we can accommodate any trailer,” Angus said. “Most other campgrounds in Ontario and Canada have only a portion of 50-amp sites.”While the final vote was near unanimous, getting to that point wasn’t smooth sailing.