A mockup of the proposed public safety building on Third Avenue in Port Alberni. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

A mockup of the proposed public safety building on Third Avenue in Port Alberni. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Cost soars for City of Port Alberni’s public safety building

Construction costs coming in higher, says acting CAO

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Costs have ballooned more than 60 percent higher than expected for renovations to the City of Port Alberni’s future public safety building.

Despite misgivings, city councillors voted to award a contract on Monday, Feb. 28 to CopCan Contracting of Nanaimo for renovations exceeding $631,000. This was $400,000 more than expected. The extra funds will have to come from the city’s emergency reserve.

READ MORE: City of Port Alberni OKs plans for public safety building uptown

“The public’s going to ask us why we’re needing more money, so I think it’s important for the public to hear why,” said Councillor Cindy Solda.

Acting CAO Scott Smith said the city received three bids for the renovations, all higher than hoped. Staff had discussions with the low bidder about changing some of the project scope and found additional savings of $100,000 to bring the cost down to $631,000.

Smith said that high inflation has become a constant factor in municipal costs.

“I hate to say it’s a sign of the times, but we are finding construction costs and other items coming in higher than any of us had hoped,” he said. “Staff have done as much as they can to bring the price of this project down.”

The public safety building on Third Avenue has been earmarked as a strategic priority by council, he said.

Rob Dickinson, director of engineering and public works, said the project is expected to be completed in June or July.

Councillor Helen Poon wondered how likely the project would remain on budget.

“We will continue to make wise decisions and be fiscally responsible,” Dickinson said. “I don’t know in the changing landscape of the world what other costs escalations will happen, but we’re determined to come in at the budget price.”

One local contractor attended the site but did not enter a bid.

Port Alberni