Sidney’s new community safety building, currently under construction. (Town of Sidney)

Sidney’s new fire hall keeps getting more expensive

Construction bids continue to exceed initial $10 million budget

Eight more contracts have come before the Town of Sidney in the ongoing construction of its new community safety building — and costs have increased again.

The project is now estimated to cost the municipality $14.5 million — and increase of half a million dollars over the last staff report to council. That earlier report saw the cost of the community safety building jump from $10 million to $14 million.

The reasons remain the same, according to Town staff. Demands upon the construction industry in the region have pushed costs up and fewer overall bidders on components of the project means the Town has less choice.

For example, there were three bidders on the electrical systems in the new structure. Sidney, through its project management firm Kinetic, received three bids, at $1.5m, $1.4m and $940,000. The low bidder, who the Town eventually chose, was Thomis Electric Ltd. and was still close to $290,000 over the Town’s budget.

Of the eight contract areas, only one came in with a bid that was under budget — an $84,000 savings for masonry work. That bid, however, was not selected by the Town. The bid that was approved Nov. 27 came in $38,000 over budget.

The Town has been working with Kinetic to find cost savings within the project and reporter Nov. 27 that they have trimmed $500,000 from originally tendered bids. Of that, $130,000 has been removed from the mechanical component of the project — which staff say is the single largest component, has received only one bidder, and has not yet been finalized. Staff reported that the cost here is already exceeding their budget, but do not expect the total project cost to exceed the $14.5 million estimate.

A staff report says, however, that planned municipal borrowing, as a result of the savings, will increase by only $300,000 — still within the range of borrowing already approved by council. All told, the estimated borrowing impact on Sidney taxpayers will be an average of $48 per yer, or $4 per month.

Councillor Peter Wainwright says, like previous tenders for the community safety building, bids came in over expected amount.

“Staff and contract managers went through a process to bring down costs as much as possible,” he explained, adding however that most tenders still only have one bidder.

“Only one bid in one tender package was lower than budgeted amount,” he added. “This getting pretty close to the end of the project, so staff are optimistic this is going to stay within control.”

Wainwright added the construction market is what it is, and tenders are typically coming in over budget across the board in the Capital Regional District, not just in Sidney.

The community safety building is currently under construction south of the Mary Winspear Centre, next to the Pat Bay Highway. It will be the new home of the Sidney Fire Department and B.C. Ambulance Service.

The Town of Sidney is currently looking for bids to purchase the old fire hall property and the adjacent parking lot. They conservatively estimate getting $3.5 million for the land, money that will help offset the total cost of the new building.

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