Although the budget has gone up due to some unexpected costs, the work to upgrade Alex Fraser Park with a new multipurpose agriculture building has the green light to continue.
Members of the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) voted unanimously at their May 13 meeting to direct staff to defer two capital projects at Alex Fraser Park and redirect $244,310 from capital reserves to the multipurpose agricultural building, for a total project budget of $895,090, which will result in a fully complete building that is connected to the City of Quesnel sewer system.
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) received a Rural Dividend Special Circumstances grant of $500,000 and a Northern Development Initiative Trust grant of $30,000 to replace the Fur and Feather Building at Alex Fraser Park (AFP) with a new multi-purpose agriculture building.
The project scope includes the demolition of the existing Fur and Feather Building and replacing it with a pre-engineered building that is approximately 10,000 to 11,000 square feet large.
The building is intended to host a wide range of agriculture events, programs and activities, provide office, meeting and training space for the AFP Society and its member organizations, and provide a facility that can act as an emergency animal shelter in the event of disaster, according to the report from Jeff Norburn, the City of Quesnel’s director of community services.
The building is designed to be a pre-engineered wood post and beam structure with metal clad roofing and metal clad exterior walls.
Originally, the estimated cost for the project $576,780, not including furniture, fixtures and equipment, with funding to come from the two grants, $26,780 North Cariboo Recreation and Parks (NCRP) budget and a $20,000 in-kind donation to the Alex Fraser Park Society.
The original budget for the project was developed by volunteers under very tight time constraints in order to capitalize on — and maximize — the amount of funding available from the Rural Dividend Fund as a Special Circumstance grant, according to Norburn.
City of Quesnel staff have worked with the Alex Fraser Park Society to revise the project budget now that more information regarding costs is available, and the estimated cost to construct the facility is $895,000. It is estimated that the cost to complete site preparation, civil work, building installation and to complete only those items necessary to obtain occupancy of the building is $700,100.
Norburn says the original budget did not include allowances for a Coordinating Registered Professional and Geotechnical and Civil Engineers.
As well, the original budget did not fully appreciate the degree to which civil engineering work would be required for water, sewer and storm water management.
Based on the geotechnical report and site testing, soil conditions on the site will require hydrovacing, or removing loose soil from the post holes that will support the building, over 100 eight-foot-deep post holes that had not been factored into the original cost estimate.
The building cost increased due to inflation in the time between the original estimate and the project proceeding. Additionally, some modifications to the building were required to conform to the building code or to improve building functionality and meet user needs.
The 2019 capital budget includes a net allocation of $74,000 for other projects in Alex Fraser Park ($64,000 for drainage and $10,000 for a structural assessment of the Agriplex). Staff feel these items can be deferred to a future year, and Norburn noted $63,000 in drainage work, which is part of the overall drainage plan in the park, is included as part of the project cost.
NCRP Capital Reserves are currently just over $1,000,000, and a portion of these funds can be directed to fund the project at the discretion of the NCJPC and with the approval of the CRD board, according to Norburn.
The NCJPC directed staff to defer the two Alex Fraser Park capital projects for drainage and a structural assessment of the Agriplex in the 2019 capital budget totalling $74,000 to the Multipurpose Agricultural Building. As well, the NCJPC recommends to the CRD board of directors that the 2019 North Cariboo Recreation and Parks budget be amended to allocate up to $244,310 from capital reserves to the Multipurpose Agricultural Building.
“I guess for me in looking at this, it is a big chunk of change for us, but it is still a 61-per-cent-leveraged project, and it was a building that we were going to have to have in our capital plan,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “The City as the manager will be taking over the asset manager .. and I would presume those Fur and Feather buildings would be front and centre in our asset management regime, so we would have to fully capitalize the whole thing if we didn’t have a gameplan in place.”
Simpson also spoke against not doing the full project at once.
“Once you’ve actually built the thing and people are actually occupying it, we tend to not come back and revisit it, and we tend to end up with a half-baked project,” he said. “Because we have the room in our capital reserve … I think there’s enough due diligence in our budget to accommodate this.”
Norburn told the committee when they were doing the cost estimates, they didn’t anticipate how much consulting work would be needed because it is a public occupancy building.
Committee members spoke in favour of getting the building done to full completion, as opposed to trying to save money by completing the building just to occupancy at this time.
“I was disappointed to see the numbers when they got out, but I understand how we got there,” said Coun. Scott Elliott. “I’m fully in favour of going full-tilt on this. We’ve got the reserves here; I think we should go ahead with what we have in our budget.”
CRD Area B (Quesnel West – Bouchie Lake) Director Barb Bachmeier expressed a desire to see better estimates on projects moving forward.
“I don’t like half-baked jobs either, but it always seems to be ‘here’s our budget, but now it’s this much,’” she said. “Let’s nail down cost estimates.”