Visitor Centre almost complete, but over budget

Trent Ernst, Editor


The new Visitor Information Centre is nearly complete.

In fact, it is so close to completion that the Chamber of Commerce has already begun to run the Visitor Information Centre out of the new building while the finishing touches are made.

“The most recent progress claim submitted by Summit Brooke Construction has identified the project as being 95.89% complete,” says CAO Barry Elliott.

However, there are additional completion costs looming, he says. “$1,530,455 was approved by Council in the 2014 Capital Budget for this project,” says Elliott. “This amount was comprised of a contract value of $1,288,154 for the construction of the building itself, $178,400 for a number of cash allowance items, including the off-site connection/utility connection costs, the LED lighting package, landscaping, block heaters and a back-up generator, and a contingency of $63,901 for related expenditures.”

In addition to the original budget, Council approved an additional $122,506 for several expenditures that had been authorized in 2014 by administration. This includes, says Elliot, $32,918 for an improved roof assembly, $2,849 for color coded window tint, $18,578 for required IT CAT 6 feed lines, and other related items.

Finally, an additional $354,730 was approved as part of this year’s budget for additional items that did not form part of the original contract, “including, in part, $120,830 for increased landscaping/planters, $12,000 for a chainsaw carving, $26,000 for an irrigation system, $45,000 for paving of the Southgate road crossing, $22,000 for office equipment, and other related items.”

This brings the total amount approved by Council for the VIC to just over two million dollars. “To date,” says Elliott, “the value of all expenditures incurred and attributed to this project totals $1,958,675. This leaves an amount of $49,016 remaining in approved funds to facilitate completion of this project.

There are a number of intended expenditures that have not yet been incurred, but which, once undertaken, will push the costs beyond the approved budget, says Elliott. These costs include:

  • $52,972 for the final progress claim to be made by Summit Brooke Construction for the completion of the contract
  • $2, 700 for the purchase of meeting room tables
  • $1,800 for the purchase of meeting room chairs
  • $35,000 for the supply and installation of the facility’s LED sign
  • $16,000 for the purchase of a meeting room interactive monitor
  • $5,000 for final clean-up costs of the building and grounds
  • $14,500 for the purchase and installation of an external information Kiosk
  • $4,000 for the purchase and final installation of the electric car charging station. Although $1,700 was approved in the Capital Budget for this amenity, the actual costs to provide electrical service to this unit, and the cost of the unit, have already well exceeded this budget allocation says Elliott.

The absolute minimum cost that must be incurred in order to complete the necessary components of the project is $66,972, says Elliott, which includes $52,972 for the final progress claim to be made by Summit Brooke, $5,000 for the final clean-up costs of the building and grounds and $4,000 for the car charger (which is already being shipped). “The result of this would be an over expenditure to the project of approximately $18,000.”

In addition to the above, says Elliott, staff have discussed and are prepared to recommend the following ancillary expenditures, for the reasons noted below, in support of this project:

$5,000 for the purchase and installation of a small shed. “This shed would be used to store lawn-care equipment that is dedicated to use at this facility. The dedication of lawncare equipment to this facility will ensure that the quality of the grounds is maintained and that the transfer of weeds to the newly installed sod from generic District lawnmowers is prevented,” says Elliott.

$1,100 for the purchase of dedicated lawn-care equipment, such as a push mower, weed eater, rakes, etc.

$8,000 for topsoil and hydro-seeding of the Helipad area.

“The inclusion of [the seeding of the helipad] would serve a number of functions,” says Elliott. “Firstly, it would serve to improve the aesthetic look of the area adjacent to the roadway. Secondly, it would serve to keep the dust along this area of town when the winds pick up or when being used by a helicopter. And thirdly, in light of the fact that a dog watering station is planned for the new Visitor Information Centre, this would facilitate signage directing dog owners to use the Helipad area for their dog’s washroom break rather than the pristine sodded areas around the new Visitor Information Centre.”

The cost of these additional expenditures is $14, 100. “In the event Council resolves to undertake all of the above additional costs, including the remainder of the originally intended expenditures and the recommended ancillary expenditures, the additional funds required would total $97,056.”

Elliott says he’s reviewed all the expenditures attributed to the project, and says there are a few reasons for the cost overruns. “The extensive delays encountered in the completion of the project subjected the ordering of materials and equipment that originated from the United States to increased costs primarily as a result of marked changes in the exchange rate. One example of this is the increase in costs by $2,000 for the irrigation system,” he says.

Also, a number of locally sourced products also experienced increased costs as a result of the project delays. “One example of this is the cost for asphalt which was budgeted at $45,000 but which ultimately cost $51,500,” he says.

“At the outset, there were a number of unanticipated costs for the project that had not, at the time, been incorporated into the project budget,” says Elliott. “Examples of these are preliminary survey costs of $2,800 and Civil Engineering costs of $10,000.”

A building redesign exercise precipitated by Council, at a cost of $6,200, was incurred but not included in the project budget, he says.

Finally, given that this project was awarded using the design-build concept, Elliott says a great number of construction details were unanticipated at the time of the contract award. “It was only as the construction of the project progressed that many details were identified and resolved. Examples of these include the recognition that a fire hydrant was required as a result of the final placement of the building; the need was encountered to remove and replace sidewalk and curbing at the front of the Medical Centre once the location of the municipal infrastructure tie-in to the new facility was determined; the change from a log post and beam design to a full scribed horizontal log design; temporary fill material for Southgate was placed in the fall of 2014 and removed/replaced in the spring of 2015to facilitate keeping the roadway open through the winter season.”

However, not every aspect of the project went over budget. “Worthy of considerable note throughout the project is the support and efforts provided by our local contractors and suppliers,” he says. “Many of these firms provided materials, equipment and labour to the project at less than their regular rates. Their collective efforts contributed largely to the successful completion of this project.”

Council will be discussing this in more detail at a future P&P meeting.