A construction worker prepares the visitors parking lot of the City of Whitehorse’s new operations building for concrete on June 25. City council officially added half a million dollars more to the projects construction contract during the June 24 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Council approves more money for Whitehorse’s new operations building

Change orders result in another half million dollars being spent

Whitehorse city council has officially added more than half a million dollars to the construction contract for the new operations building being built off Range Road.

The spending was approved in a 6-1 vote at council’s June 24 meeting. Coun. Samson Hartland was the lone council member to vote against the spending, pointing out that he is continuing to register his opposition to the 11,567-square-metre building as he has done “since Day 1”.

The construction is part of the overall plan by the city to consolidate its services into particular areas. The operations building is the first piece of that with the city’s operations and transit department set to move to the structure. Future stages will see a new downtown fire hall built and a services building constructed next to city hall where there are also set to be energy retrofits.

When the operations building first came forward for council approval, Hartland was vocal in his opposition, arguing the city should be leasing space rather than taking on the capital and operating costs that come with building an entirely new city-owned structure.

At the June 24 meeting, he said he derived no pleasure from this situation, which he suggested had proven his earlier predictions.

As Mayor Dan Curtis retorted, even with the increased costs to the contract, the project is still under what had been the original construction estimate of $43 million.

“We’re still under budget,” Curtis said.

The change brings Ketza Construction’s contract up to $39.7 million and comes in light of about 200 change orders that have been made to the original tendered plans since construction began in 2018.

The additional amount is also set to cover additional work by subcontractors and means the planned completion date is now set for mid-September rather than Jan. 31 as originally envisioned.

Wayne Tuck, the city’s project manager for the operations building, explained in a June 17 report to council that Ketza told officials in August the original completion date would not be met due to the changes it was being faced with.

RDHA, the architect firm that designed the building, has been working with Ketza on the issues and not charging for the additional time that’s been needed.

An agreement is attached to the budget change. Ketza must confirm that the costs also cover sub-contractor claims, that there’s no additional claims for previous and existing changes and that the payment releases the city of claims, which are or have previously been covered by change orders or submitted by Ketza.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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