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City hall renovations report to cost more
Council split on whether to spend extra $150,000 now or later

Nicole Veerman
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 14, 2011

City council was divided Monday on whether to approve a $150,000 budget increase that would allow a more detailed renovation report for city hall.

During the Municipal Services Committee meeting, Couns. Cory Vanthuyne, Paul Falvo and David Wind supported deferring voted to defer the extra spending to the 2012-13 budget, which will be debated this winter. Couns. Lydia Bardak and Bob Brooks supported administration's recommendation, to re-work its contract with PSAV Architects Ltd., the firm developing the building analysis report.

PSAV was awarded a $50,000 contract earlier this year to create a report outlining structural and environmental issues, and energy efficiency strategies for a revamped city hall. The preliminary report also includes some conceptual ideas for space requirements for improving customer service at city hall.

The recommendation from administration is that PSAV continue on with the project, creating a detailed design for the renovations of city hall, which includes a $355,000 roof replacement.

Couns. Vanthuyne and Wind expressed concern about administration's recommendation to change the existing contract with PSAV, without first seeking proposals from other firms.

"It does strike me that our procurement policies, wherever possible, these things need to go to tender so that all capable people, particularly those within the city who might be interested in doing that work, get a chance to propose to the city how they would do the work and what costs would be involved," said Wind.

"I'm afraid that public perception would be that the city's doing a bit of a twist, I guess, on their procurement policies and I'm not in favour of that.

"I can appreciate the urgency and that administration feels that this is important, but the city has a lot of important projects, which all are subject to procurement policies and I certainly wouldn't want to leave a perception out that there that we're not following our own policies."

Vanthuyne, like Wind, acknowledged that he appreciates administration's efforts to save money and time by not going back to a request for proposals, but he said he felt the project should be dealt with under a new contract.

"Change orders are typically relative to making changes to the original scope. I think there's obviously a whole new defined kind of scope of work that would be covered under this $150,000, thereby to me it seems like it ought to be a whole new full-on contract."

Coun. Amanda Mallon was in favour of the city putting out a request for proposals for the work, giving other firms an opportunity to present the city with a proposal.

Bob Long, the city's senior administrator, said spending an extra $150,000 is definitely worthy of debate.

"If council's more comfortable if we go back out to tender, from an administration point of view, I don't think that's an issue," he said, noting that he would rather do that than wait for the next budget process to begin.

According to the committee memo, if the now $200,000 work is done

immediately instead of waiting, administration will obtain renovation cost estimates that will allow them to include some of the renovations in the proposed 2012-13 budget.

Without those estimates, renovations would have to wait until the next budget review, delaying work for another year.

Bardak agreed with administration, saying the work needs to get done as soon as possible.

"My recollection both during my time on council and prior to that is that every time any kind of renovations are proposed for council chambers or city hall, they get knocked off the budget year after year after year and at some point, I think, there is going to be a tremendous price to pay for that, so at some point some changes are necessary just so we don't end up with a building that's outdated or useless."

Council will vote on the recommendation at a later regular meeting.

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