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New firehall $2 million over budget

Currently, the exterior of the new firehall under construction on Massey Drive is green due to the construction paper on the building. It should, perhaps, be a different colour as the project is $2 million in the red.

Adam Homes, the city’s director of infrastructure and public works, broke the news to council Monday night. City residents, in a 2017 referendum, approved borrowing $15 million for the new firehall to replace the old Firehall No. 1 downtown. Homes said the estimated price tag is now $17.

Homes said the main reason for the new price is that 5,000 square feet was added to the building’s footprint. The original design put the size at 21,000 square feet, but the final design is now 26,000 square feet. The additional space is required in the fire dispatch centre and mechanical room.

He added that during excavation old construction debris was found, which also added to the cost and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the contractor has had trouble finding tradespeople, which has also added to the cost.

Coun. Terri McConnachie said she understood unforeseen costs that the pandemic may have added, but questioned as to why the space issues weren’t revealed until now. The foundation was poured last October so staff would have known about the extra space requirement before then.

Coun. Brian Skakun also raised concerns about how the city will pay for the cost overrun.

“To me, it’s not acceptable,” he said. “I think council does have to have a firmer grip on some of these projects.”

City manager Kathleen Soltis said the city will not borrow to make up the difference.  A couple of capital projects … replacement of culverts along Kelly Road North and Goose Country Road … are estimated to come in about $900,000 under budget, she said. The rest will come from reserves and will be within the limit she is allowed to OK without going to council for approval.

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