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Mayor’s Column – April 2, 2014

Meet the Mayor

April 2, 2014

You asked me and I will try to answer. Some questions have short answers and some questions require more complex responses. I’ll try to strike a balance.

You asked about the proposed new District Office. I guess it is more than a proposed project now because the contract has been signed with the builder. It’s going to happen unless a catastrophic event intervenes. You were interested in the size of the budget and the reasons for selecting the builder from out of town and out of province. These are good questions.

The answers are not simple and I will give the figures in round numbers.

The original cost of the project came in at 6.1 million. Without destroying the essential nature of the proposed building, Council and Staff cut and slashed to bring it down to a manageable size. Rooms and features were deleted bringing the cost to 3.9 million. After a thorough review of the plans, Council decided that certain items deleted in the first cut needed to be added back in: improvements to the proposed skylight over the reception area; window blinds; lobby display and seating; Council desk in the Council chamber; an increased contingency; and $60,000 to cover the higher-than-expected price of structural steel. This brought the total contracted price to 4.2 million.

Naturally, there are other costs not included in the builder’s contract. These include paving, hydro, water, and sewer connections, landscaping, living out costs for the crew, and costs for inspections. All these additional costs will bring the total cost closer to approximately 5 million and now in line with the original publicly stated budget of 4.8 million.

I know that to say approximately when referring to building costs is not the level of certainty that most of us like to have. I certainly like to know how much I will be spending – even when I take my car for a service – especially when I take my car for a service. But absolute figures are not always possible unless the contract price is so high that there is no possibility of the builder’s losing. The bigger the project, however, the greater the scope for surprises like finding a lost 20-ton boulder hiding in the middle of the basement excavation. That’s the reason for the contingency.

You asked why Council didn’t select an in-region builder or, at least an in-province builder. Once again, this is a good question, easier to answer than the pricing question, but deserving of a straight-forward answer: no Peace-area builders chose to bid on the project. In-province bids (all from the lower mainland) were so far out of budget that they could not be considered. Part of the reason for the high prices no doubt was the built-in cost of housing, food, and travel for the workers. And so we are left with a satisfactory bid from a reputable company within a reasonable travel range.

Thank you again for your very good questions. Keep them coming.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor