The budget for the new multipurpose agricultural building at Alex Fraser Park has gone up again, and while they expressed concern with the increase, members of the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) voted this week to continue moving forward with the project.
NCJPC members voted unanimously at their March 10 meeting in Quesnel to approve $238,119 out of the capital reserves, as well as to defer a structural assessment of the current agriplex to a future year and reduce the scope of a drainage improvement project to the park in order to redirect funds to the completion of the agricultural building.
The project’s increased costs have been attributed to the unexpected need to install a strip foundation, as well as the need to construct a fire truck access road in order to comply with building and fire codes, as well as considerably more geotechnical testing and civil design work than originally expected.
The structural assessment, which was scheduled to for 2020 and has been deferred to a future year, had a budgeted cost of $10,000, while the budget for drainage improvements at Alex Fraser Park has been reduced from $64,000 to $20,000 in order to allocate those funds to the completion of the agricultural building.
The Alex Fraser Park Society has also indicated to the City of Quesnel that they have received a $25,000 donation, which can be used towards the cost of the project.
This is the second time the budget for the agricultural building has gone up. Originally, the estimated cost for completing the project was $576,780, which was then raised to $895,000 in May 2019 and has now ballooned to $1,212,210, more then double the original estimate.
Quesnel Coun. Ron Paull, along with others, voiced his concern regarding this project’s overruns during the meeting.
“It seems like every time we sit down and whether we’re looking at this or a Public Works facility or whatever, the overruns we are experiencing, quite frankly, are embarrassing and you know we are hiring what I am led to believe are qualified quantity surveyors and consultants to advise us, but it doesn’t seem like were are getting that advice — it is really disturbing that we seem to be constantly faced with theses overruns,” said Paull.
Jeff Norburn, the City of Quesnel’s director of community services, responded to Paull’s comment by reminding him that a quantity survey had not been done on this project originally.
The use of funds from the capital reserves gave pause to Mary Sjostrom, the Cariboo Regional District Director for Electoral Area A, who wants to see the project completed but also feels the reserves may be being depleted past an acceptable point.
“I am concerned with the capital reserves being depleted to a point that, to me, is too low, and I’m hoping that we can really get a handle on that moving forward,” she said. “I want to see this project completed, but I really am nervous that we are getting really considerably lower than what I personally feel comfortable [with].”