Quesnel council has approved a budget of $13 million for the new Public Works facility, which is $2 million higher than the original budget approved last year. (Photo courtesy of City of Quesnel)

New design and higher budget approved for Quesnel’s Public Works facility

Council approves spending up to $13 million for new buildings and yard

Quesnel council has approved a revised design and a revised, higher budget for the City’s new Public Works facility.

At its Jan. 7 meeting, council learned the overall project completion cost is estimated to be $12,738,000, almost two million dollars higher than the $10,975,000 originally approved for the project.

In the 2019 capital budget, $10,975,000 was approved to construct a new Public Works facility, and $8,500,000 of the total amount received voter assent to be borrowed by a 2018 referendum, Chris Coben, the City’s director of capital works and infrastructure, explained in his report to council.

Work began immediately on design, and the City engaged Vancouver-based MKT Development Group as a project manager. The City issued an expression of interest for a general contractor, and five contractors were invited to submit a proposal for a new build while site preparation works were underway.

Coben told council the five proposals ranged from $15,002,252 to $17,968,801, all well over the estimated cost.

Negotiations with the lowest- priced contracted, Vic Van Isle Construction out of Revelstoke, along with value engineering that included sizing adjustments of the mechanical shop, approving alternate electrical, mechanical and structural components has revised the price to complete the general contractor portion of the project to $10,114,000. Additional costs bring the overall project completion cost to an estimated $12,738,000.

Vic Van Isle Construction and MKT Development Group Inc. both worked with the City previously for the construction of the new West Fraser Centre.

Peter Mitchell, principal and project manager with MKT Development Group Inc., provided an update to council at the Jan. 7 meeting and explained all the work that has gone into the revised project plan.

“The project has gone through quite a journey,” he said.

Mitchell says the change in the estimated project cost from the time the project was approved to the time the project went out to contractors for proposals is mostly due to inflation.

“Considerable inflation occurred, and basically, I think we had underestimated the cost of developing the yard space, which turned out to be a significant cost factor,” he said.

Mitchell told council they opted to go with what he would call a “hybrid design build concept.”

“Out of that process, we managed to carve away $3 million to $4 million,” he said. “I think we have pretty much arrived at a number that I don’t think will get much better. We wanted to maintain the original functionality and design work that had been provided by the architect. We think this is a well-designed, functional building. I think have achieved a very good building in the long run.”

Mitchell says when they realized the budget was much higher than originally estimated, some of the changes they made include cutting back from three full mechanical bays to two and looking at economies in the vehicle storage area. The total area for the buildings was reduced by about 5,000 square feet. The administration space, storage space, lunch room and locker room space are all fully maintained as per the original design.

One big change was to move to a pre-engineered building for both the main building and the storage building.

“That produced probably $1 million or $2 million savings in the end,” said Mitchell.

The new design has re-engineered a central mechanical system to provide heating and cooling with a simpler, de-centralized heat pump system, which saves about $1.9 million.

As well, the yard works has now been taken out of the contractor’s budget, and City workers will do the gravel and paving, which, along with some design medications for the yard, saves about $300,000, according to Mitchell.

“Essentially, we now have a design which was preserved,” said Mitchell. “We stayed within our public procurement guidelines. We have a contractor that I think has performed very well in working to this time.

“We originally had a schedule of September 2020, and now our schedule is November 2020, so we have only lost a couple months, and we have a certainly brought this project in lower than it could have been. I don’t think there’s much more we would change if we could.”

Following Mitchell’s presentation, council directed staff to proceed with awarding the general contract for the construction of the new facility to Vic Van Isle Construction and amended the existing budget to an overall total amount of $13 million.

The original budget of $10,975,000 was approved in 2019 to come from debt, the City’s capital reinvestment reserve, the Public Works reserve and general capital. It is recommended that the additional $2,025,000 be funded from the City’s water and sewer surpluses, the water and sewer capital budgets and the Public Works reserve.

Mayor Bob Simpson, who is also chair of the City’s Financial Audit and Sustainability Committee, noted that this type of funding using reserves and surplus is common for the City.

The need for a new Public Works facility was identified in 2002, and the City purchased a 2.9-hectare parcel of land on Sword Avenue for a new public Works yard, according to Coben’s report.

The new facility is expected to be ready for occupancy in late November of this year.

READ MORE: Referendum set for replacement of Quesnel’s Public Works facility


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