Towns arena addition now in jeopardy with bids well exceeding plans

Due to a larger-than-expected cost estimate, it now appears the highly anticipated addition at Centre 2000 may not proceed at all.

“That is, I have to say, a real possibility,” Erin Mayor Rod Finnie said last week. “I don’t think we can do it at that price.”

He was referring to the $1,234,441 tender from Kiwi Newton Construction, which was the lowest of four received but still $182,409 over the town’s original budget of $993,000 for the addition (after its GST refund).

Officials had planned to pay for the addition, which includes larger dressing rooms and more storage, with $662,166 from a Rec­reational Infrastructure Can­ada (RInC) grant and $331,084 from the hydro proceeds reserves.

A subsequent deal with East?Wellington Community Ser­vices (EWCS) for a 750 square foot space for its food bank was expected to add another $126,000 to the cost, with $42,000 of that amount coming from EWCS (thanks to a donation by the Lions Club).

However, the food bank portion of the building was estimated by Kiwi Newton Construction to cost $230,000 – or 83% over budget.

Town Manager Lisa Hass explained the reason for higher costs for the entire project in­clude:

– wider halls to meet the Building Code;

– additional square footage for access from the lobby to the hallway;

– a rear access to the food bank;

– a new requirement that all block walls must be filled with concrete; and

– that many contractors are busy at this time.

Given the large cost in­crease, Hass offered council four options:

– do not proceed with the addition;

– review the food bank project with EWCS officials to see if any items in that portion can be removed;

– borrow the funds to cover the $182,409 shortfall; and

– look at other possible items that could be removed or altered to save money.

Councillors and staff did mention three of the four op­tions as possibilities, but did not discuss the idea of borrowing the money (the town has already borrowed $286,666  in the last year for the rehabi­li­tation of several Hills­burgh streets).

“I have concerns with the design,” councillor Ken Chap­man said of the arena addition. “I can tell it’s been designed by an engineer.”

When councillor Barb Toch­er replied, “It has to be,” Chapman said that’s not the case; an architect could do it.

He explained the plan in­cludes thicker floors where people walk than it does for the area that will be used by the arena’s ice resurfacer and he wanted to know why. Having several decades experience in construction, Chapman said he has never before seen floors done that way.

Finnie said the town could meet with the construction firm as well as EWCS to see where there could be some savings, though he warned the entire project is in jeopardy. He told council he does not want to throw away the RInC grant, but he does not think Erin alone can absorb the extra costs.

Hass will try to set up the meetings and said council can defer the tender for now.