Kent puts price on geothermal heat

The geothermal heating system planned for the new F.H. Collins high school will cost almost $1 million to build, according to Yukon Education Minister Scott Kent.

The geothermal heating system planned for the new F.H. Collins high school will cost almost $1 million to build, according to Yukon Education Minister Scott Kent.

The total budget for the new building now sits at $55.8 million, up $3.3 million from the original approved budget, said Kent. Speaking in the legislature earlier this month, Kent had pegged the new cost estimates at $56.7 million, but said that was incorrect due to a clerical error.

The original $52.5-million price tag was only a preliminary figure, Kent maintained.

“Following more design development, we have a more detailed estimate now,” the minister said.

About a third of that increase, $918,000, will pay for the geoexchange heating system. It was left out of the original budget because of a review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board that was ongoing at the time, said Kent.

“Before the election last year, the (geoexchange system) was subject to a YESAB permit. Last year, we negotiated with the city for a mutually beneficial arrangement. The school will extract heat from well water and pipe water into the municipal water system,” said Kent

The new plans don’t require the assessment board’s scrutiny, allowing the territory to put the geoexchange back into the new school plans, said Kent.

Other increases include $1.4 million in design costs, more money for additional landscaping and funds to relocate a portable weight room.

Kent said the costs could still vary in the coming months. The final budget for the new school won’t be known until the construction contracts are awarded. When those tenders come back, the bids could be lower than the current budget, he said.

“The tenders are out right now. They went out last week and will be closing in middle of January. That’s where we’re going to get to the point where we know the actual budget – once we award the bid to the successful bidder,” said Kent.

Kent will be on hand tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. for an open house at the F.H. Collins cafeteria to discuss the plans for the new school. (Jesse Winter)