School construction bids way off mark

Construction of a new F.H. Collins high school may cost at least $9 million more than the government budgeted for, according to the public tender bids released on Tuesday.

Construction of a new F.H. Collins high school may cost at least $9 million more than the government budgeted for, according to the public tender bids released on Tuesday.

The Department of Highways and Public Works had put the tenders out with a budget of $38.6 million. That is meant to cover the actual construction of the new building, and is part of the project’s total budget of $56 million.

The lowest bid received – submitted by Richmond, B.C.‘s EllisDon Corp. – is nearly $48 million.

The highest bidder was Clark Builders from Yellowknife, which pitched $60 million.

Delta, B.C.‘s Graham Construction and Engineering bid $50 million.

Kendra Black, a spokesperson for the department, said that the government’s budget was developed by two hired professional estimators.

“In terms of the budget, the architectural consultant hired a professional estimator and we also hired a professional estimator to develop the costs, and those two estimates were very close. We feel comfortable with the estimate that was created. There may be other market factors that the bidder may take into account, and we really can’t comment on those,” Black said.

All three bids met the tender requirements. The department now has up to 60 days to review the lowest bid. Decisions on how to be proceed will happen after the review is complete, said Black.

Cabinet spokesman Matthew Grant said that the ministers responsible – Education Minister Scott Kent and Public Works Minister Elaine Taylor – won’t comment publicly on the bids until Public Works has finished its review.

The high bids don’t sit well with the official opposition.

“It’s more confusion, ” said NDP education critic Jim Tredger on Thursday.

“We still don’t know who’s building it, when they’re building it or how much it’s going to cost after 12 years of planning,” Tredger said.

“It’s the Thursday before spring break, and they’re scheduled to start construction on the spring break. Teachers and students haven’t been informed. Are they going to have a gym on Monday? That’s pretty lame,” he said.

Plans to rebuild the school have dragged on for years and keep getting more expensive every time there is a new stumbling block, said Tredger.

“This has been going on quite a while. The kids and teachers have to plan, but how are we going to mitigate the confusion? That’s 25 per cent more than they expected. That’s a huge amount. How did we get that far off base?” he asked.

The government has said it will hire a professional project manager to oversee the construction of the new school. Tredger said that manager should have been in place even before the contracts were tendered.

The Liberals’ Sandy Silver said he wonders why an outside project manager is even necessary, and that the government should have the required expertise in house.

Both Silver and Tredger also compared concerns with the F.H. Collins project to the recent auditor general’s report on the Watson Lake and Dawson City hospital projects, saying it is another example of the Yukon government’s mismanagement of major infrastructure projects.

“The government has to do a better job on cost estimates. Here we are, after the auditor general’s report, and it’s the same idea. Where is the planning in this? If you did do your due diligence in this, you’d think that those numbers would be much closer,” said Silver.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read