Months before serious construction is set to begin on the new F.H. Collins school, the project is already facing cost overruns.
In the legislature on Nov. 5, the NDP Opposition’s critic of public works, Lois Moorcroft, raised questions about the latest numbers for the new building.
The current budget for the school is now at $56.7 million, which Moorcroft said includes an additional $1.5 million for the geothermal heating system announced earlier this month.
“The government has a long history of huge cost overruns. We only need to look at the jail going from $30 million to $70 million as a result of poor planning and implementation by this government,” said Moorcroft.
But Moorcroft was comparing the prison’s final cost to earlier plans designed by a Liberal government. The new prison cost $70.3 million to build – $4.1 million above the initial price tag of $66.26 million.
Education Minister Scott Kent confirmed the budget for the new school has grown, but he said the government is taking steps to ensure there are no major overruns.
“The total current budget for F.H. Collins is $56.7 million, which does represent an increase of $4.18 million from the previous approved budget of $52.5 million,” said Kent.
“The minister of Highways and Public Works and I have been able to add … a consultant to manage the project after it’s tendered. … We’ll wait and allow that project manager to look after it and ensure that we get the best possible pricing for Yukoners,” he said.
The NDP’s Jan Stick remained unconvinced. She cited major cost overruns on projects in the past, including the new Whitehorse jail, the cost for which she said more than doubled during construction.
During an interview afterwards, Stick questioned why plans to include a geothermal heat pump were dropped long enough for the government to stage a sod-turning ceremony before the election, then added afterwards.
“The whole thing is a bit of a fiasco, when you have the pre-announcement before the election, and now things have changed. Things were taken out and they put them back in again,” Stick said.
The Department of Education could not provide an explanation of the increased costs by press time, but spokesman Chris Madden said that the inclusion of the geoexchange system is not responsible for the increase.