Seismic work beefs safety at Esq. public safety building

Project over budget despite being divided in two phases

Esquimalt’s public safety building is preparing to undergo the knife to receive $350,600 in seismic upgrades and roof repairs, a pricer tally that some municipal council members expected.

Council originally approved $250,000 for the work.

But faced with the need for a contingency fund, higher construction costs and additional structural engineering work, Esquimalt Fire Department Chief David Ward asked council to approve an additional $180,600.

“I’m quite shocked to see that the bids were so much higher than we’d actually thought they were going to be,” Coun. Lynda Hundleby said at a special council meeting last week.

Ward said he also wasn’t expecting the project to be so expensive.

“I’m actually disappointed in the (construction bids) that came in, but two of the numbers were very, very close and all four were within $50,000,” Ward told council. “So that tells me that the contractors just aren’t just throwing numbers out there without doing their homework.

“So I’m confident the costs are realistic.”

Despite this, some council members said for safety’s sake they are pleased the upgrades and repairs won’t be delayed.

“While the price tag is higher than anticipated, I think the reasons for going forward (to ensure the building withstands an earthquake) remains,” said Coun. Alison Gaul.

Initially, the project included plans to construct an extension to the front of the fire hall.

To keep costs down, that was rolled into a future second phase.

The extension will be necessary if and when a separate fire engine shed, currently located across the street from the fire hall, is taken down to make room for any developments built at the municipal square, Ward said.

“If I had the money, I’d put the extension on now,” he said.

Council unanimously awarded the seismic upgrade and roofing contract to Saanich-based Campbell Construction. Work is expected to be finished by Nov. 15.