Plans for a new fire hall and public works building in Faro have been put on hold after bids on the construction tender for the project came in “significantly” over-budget.
Department of Community Services spokesperson Kara Johancsik confirmed Aug. 5 that the Yukon government has cancelled the tender, which closed July 25, but still plans to “move forward” with building a new facility for the town.
“The tender is cancelled. The project is not,” she said.
Johancsik said the Yukon government received six bids on the tender, all of which “came in significantly higher than we expected, which put the price for the overall project well beyond the federal funding that we have available for it.”
There’s $12.2 million in funding available to cover all costs related to the project, she said, including the planning, design and construction. The federal government is contributing 75 per cent of that, with the territorial government footing the remaining 25 per cent.
Johancsik would not say how much the bids exceeded the budget by.
Faro’s manager of operations, Gordon Wallace, did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
However, in June, he had told the News that the new building was badly needed.
“Our current fire hall and operations buildings are old and depreciated and they don’t meet code anymore, and (they’re) energy inefficient,” he said at the time.
The new building would have consisted of three fire garage bays, one EMS bay, four public works shop bays, a carpentry bay and machine shop bays, as well as meeting rooms. Construction had been tentatively scheduled to start this month, with the building finished by late 2020.
Instead, the Yukon government will now be working with Faro on a redesign “that we think will come in within our budget,” Johancsik said, with the hope of reissuing a construction tender in spring of 2020.
“I think we just need to focus in more on the core needs, what we really need to get out of this fire hall,” she said.
“I mean, some of the … hopes and dreams that Faro had had, we’ll just have to talk to them about that, like, ‘What do we really need to accomplish here and what can we do with the budget we have?’”
In an interview Aug. 6, official Opposition house leader Scott Kent, the Yukon Party MLA for Copperbelt South, said he’d be interested to see how the government arrived at its cost estimate for the project, as well as more transparency around the tender processes overall.
“Obviously you have a design consultant and I believe, you know, in the past, Yukon government has hired independent estimators, so, you know, how could those numbers be so far out that all six of the bidders have gone so far over budget?” he asked.
The Yukon Party would also like to know why some over-budget projects get approved while others don’t, he said, and the values of bids on public tenders published more quickly.
Kent said he hasn’t spoken to anyone in Faro yet (the town falls into the riding of Yukon Party MLA Stacey Hassard, who was not available for comment), but that his phone has “ringing off the hook from contractors and subcontractors that are quite disappointed with this decision.”
“(With) these projects, it’s not only about the people that are going to be put to work and the individuals that will have employment from them,” he said, “but it’s much-needed infrastructure in these communities … so I’m sure that the people of Faro are just as disappointed as the number of contractors that we’ve heard from.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org