F.H. Collins public tenders extended

The Department of Highways and Public Works has pushed back the deadline for bids on the new F.H. Collins school construction project.

The Department of Highways and Public Works has pushed back the deadline for bids on the new F.H. Collins school construction project.

The delay was done at the request of the construction industry, said Cynthia Tucker, assistant deputy minister of public works. The new deadline is Feb. 26.

Tucker said that contractors wanting to bid on the project have asked for more time to get their final prices in order, but that the pushed-back deadline won’t delay the overall timeline of the project.

“It will have no impact on the completion date of the school. It’s still expected to come in at August, 2015. We don’t see it having any other substantial impacts. We’ve chosen to go ahead with the extension to allow for better pricing and we think it will get a better project over all, longer term,” Tucker said at a technical briefing on Tuesday.

She said the decision isn’t related to the temporary gym, which was added to the contract tenders late last year.

“In every project of this magnitude, there are lots of addendums. If you look back at any other major project of this magnitude, there are lots of addendums. This is another addendum. The school will be completed on time,” she said.

She also promised that the change won’t curtail students’ access to the current gym, but there is a possibility they could hold off on tearing it down if the winning construction company doesn’t need access to it right away.

If, for example, the construction company wouldn’t need to work on the site until April 1, the department would leave the gym open past the current March 1 closure date.

There is also a separate tender ending Feb. 26 seeking an outside project manager to oversee the project. Tucker said an outside manager is needed because Yukon government staff don’t have the expertise necessary to tackle a project this big.

“We don’t have that expertise because we don’t do projects of this magnitude on a regular basis. We’re going to try to get that expertise so we can get a better project out of it,” she said.

The budget for the management contract won’t be released until the tender is closed, Tucker said.

Despite the assurances, Opposition education critic Jim Tredger is worried about delays.

“I’m concerned about the planning and lack thereof. This kind of thing should have been worked out ahead of time. I hope it’s not another glitch,” Tredger said.

He questioned whether extending deadlines like this really is standard practice for projects this big.

“If it’s standard, why not have a preliminary date and a final date? The problems are often that the tenders are put out late and then don’t line up with the school schedule. You’ll have a project that isn’t shovel ready until August, right before kids are set to come back to school,” he said.

In his mind, this project has already dragged on long enough.

“Twelve years ago when the Yukon Party was elected, they were promising a new school would be built immediately for $25 million. Now we’re more than a decade later and the cost is up to $56 million,” he said.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com