Orangeville council chamber renovations cleared despite $140,000 cost increase

July 20, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Planned renovation of Orangeville’s council chambers will go ahead this fall, even though the project has come in almost $140,000 over budget.

Council signed off on the upgrades in a 4-3 vote on Monday (July 16) in a move aimed at modernizing the aging space in Town Hall. This will mark the first major renovation of the chambers in more than 25 years.

The project was initially approved during budget deliberations last November, with Council setting aside $180,000 to complete the work. That money, the Town’s Director of Parks and Recreation Ray Osmond estimated, would be enough to completely overhaul the room, replacing the two support beams that sit in the middle of the space, investing in new desks for Council and staff and completely replacing the room’s audio system. All told, Council was now looking at a $316,980 expense, which includes a 10 percent contingency, to complete the job.

Coun. Don Kidd, who voted against the project when it first came to council last year, scoffed at the added expense, stating he would “certainly be opposing it”. Coun. Gail Campbell also voiced her concern at the upgrades coming in so much over budget.

“Honestly, we were shocked as well,” Mr. Osmond told Council. “The numbers we were working with were presented by architects in the market last year. We went out to tender and the bids came in high, very high. There wasn’t really a real low bid or a real high bid, the numbers were all very competitive.”

He added, “We can only speculate on why the price seems to have gone up, it could be the time of year, everyone could be busy, it could be issues with mill work. Right now though, this number ($316,980) is the one we’re working with. That’s just how the bids came in.”

The Town received three bids for the contract. MJ.K. Construction Inc. came in at $251,847, Trisect Construction Corporation at $280,692, Execway at $332,943 and DBC&RR Inc. at $387,985. Those numbers simply cover the work to renovate the space, and an estimated $65,000 will be required to carry out the audio visual upgrades staff recommended.

Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock supported the project last year. Early on in discussions this time around, however, he intimated he could not justify voting in favour of something that came in “way over budget”.

“The room is 25 years old and maybe does need to be changed, but I’m not prepared to support this this evening,” he said. “Had it come in under budget, absolutely… But this is significantly over.”

Coun. Nick Garisto didn’t like the way the project was to be funded when it was approved in budget deliberations. He essentially wanted the Town to save up some money before moving ahead with the renovation, suggesting the municipality take $90,000 from the 2018 budget and $90,000 from 2019 to fund it. It was no surprise when he told Council he could not support the initiative.

Recognizing how long it had been since council chambers had received any kind of major upgrade, Coun. Sylvia Bradley suggested the extra $136,980 needed to complete the project be taken from the 2019 budget. Mayor Jeremy Williams stated that while he felt it was something that was “long overdue”, he didn’t feel comfortable spending what would be a new Council’s budget. Coun. Scott Wilson stated simply this was something Council ought to move forward with.

“I’m not surprised by the cost and I’m not surprised the budget estimate has been exceeded. If we want this (pointing to a digitally drawn up image of the new space), then we need to pay this,” Coun. Wilson said. “We shouldn’t be getting cheap at the wrong time. If we don’t go ahead and renovate this space in the way we asked for a price on, we’re doing a disservice to future councils. We’ve all been in this room for a number of years now, we know it doesn’t work as well as it could.”

In the end councillors Wilson, Bradley and Gail Campbell voted alongside Deputy Mayor Maycock, who had an apparent change of heart during discussions, in approving the project. Mayor Williams, Coun. Kidd and Coun. Garisto voted against it.

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