‘Hopefully this $3.5 million is all that is required. I would hate like the dickens to see us come back again’
GRAVENHURST — Soaring costs on the Centennial Centre expansion and pool project seem, in part, due to the rush to get an application in for grant funding and the tight deadline to complete the project.
Last week Gravenhurst town council was unanimous in the decision to tack an additional $3.4 million onto the project cost, originally estimated at $18.7 million. The project is now expected to cost $21.5 million. The town has a $12.4-million grant from the Building Canada Fund, which means Gravenhurst is footing nearly half of the bill.
“The difference we are talking about today is significant, there is no hiding that. It moves us to 45 per cent of the cost,” said Coun. Lou Guerriero who heads the building committee.
The additional costs will mean an approximate 2.5 per cent increase to property taxes, or $7.50 for the average homeowner, said Ken Watson, town treasurer.
The cost overruns boil down to seven unforeseen extra costs totalling $2.9 million, plus the recommendation of the architects to add $500,000 to the contingency fund for any other unforeseen expenses, said Guerriero.
Like other federal government stimulus-funded projects, the Building Canada Fund requires the completion of the pool project by March 2011.
The town worked with CS&P Architects Inc. from September 2009 to determine a plan to ensure the project could be completed by March 2011, said Guerriero.
“Time was of the essence so we finalized the design,” he said.
In January planners started to discover problems. Additional stormwater management capacity was needed so the facility has the ability to drain the pool in an emergency. Those costs come to $150,000.
A revised sewer connection across to Second Street totals $200,000.
A high water table discovered after hydrogeological analysis in February is the most expensive expenditure, adding $700,000 to the project to dewater the site and raise the pool floor, making it a larger building.
Coun. Terry Pilger asked how the town missed the mark on certain parts of the project, such as the sewer connections and dewatering of the site.
“How did we miss the capacity of the district piping, which should have been available at that time (of the funding application) and the stormwater management?” Pilger asked.
With a tight timeline to complete the application for funding, Guerriero said there was no chance to do the studies.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do the two-week turnaround to fill out the application,” he said.
The town required a permit to do certain studies, he added.
Coun. Mark Clairmont said Gravenhurst’s biggest beef should be with the federal government because there was only two weeks to complete the application for funding.
But he thinks the project will be a good investment for the town.
Guerriero agreed and added the pool will be a value to the town and will serve the community for at least 30 years.
In addition to the short application time, the costs associated with an accelerated construction process come to $500,000 to meet the March 2011 deadline.
Coun. Bob Colhoun said council didn’t have a choice in paying the extra funds to complete the project in the required time.
“I can appreciate that most projects when you are doing them you are not forced into a rush, rush, hurry, hurry, get it done because here is the end date,” said Colhoun.
He hopes there will be no other extra costs.
“Hopefully this $3.5 million is all that is required,” said Colhoun. “I would hate like the dickens to see us come back again.”
Maureen O’Shaughnessy with CS&P Architects indicated the $500,000 added contingency should cover any other unforeseen circumstances at the site.
Other additional expenses include the reinforcement to the old arena and fire sprinklers to be up to current code for $450,000. The construction scheduling and logistics for public access to the ice starting on July 15 amounted to $125,000.
The complexity of connecting to the existing building comes to $350,000.
The impact of the new HST cannot be determined at this time, according to Guerriero.
During the meeting Mayor John Klinck said there may be an opportunity to get additional federal funding.
He also suggested while there isn’t a firm agreement with the YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka yet, he asked about removing certain things such as child minding spaces and the gym space to save money and how that would affect the YMCA’s business case.
David Grass, YMCA vice-president of facility development and new initiatives, said removing the facilities would impact the programs they could offer and opportunities for families to use the facility.
Guerriero said the architects looked at ways to change the design of the building or tile in the pool to save money.
“It became not cost effective for many of the changes,” he said.
Council didn’t discuss removing any parts of the original plan.
The project is on schedule, according to project manager Michael Campian of The Dalton Company.
“We will be sustainably complete by March as promised,” said Campian.