North Saanich forges ahead with hall replacement plans

Contract for $125,000 awarded to Langford company.

Earlier this year

North Saanich will spend $125,000 to plan for the replacement of deteriorating portions of the municipal hall.

Council on Monday approved hiring Verity Developments Ltd. of Langford for the first phase of the project, the design and management of the partial replacement of the District hall.

North Saanich’s municipal hall is a hodgepodge of structures built over decades. The centre portion of the building needs replacement, as parts of walls have been exposed to water. Rot and mould are concerns for the workers based in the building, as are concerns over the structural integrity.

“I have great hopes and expectations in this being as successful [as the District’s firehall expansion],” says Mayor Alice Finall.

Her enthusiasm was tempered somewhat by Councillor Geoff Orr who said he’s concerned with price creep.

“We need to find the total cost,” he said. “I support spending the money on design to see what it’ll cost but I’m concerned that we started at $80,000 for this contract and now it’s at $125,000.”

Orr added the firehall project itself started at $800,000 for construction and came in at completion at $1.2 million.

“It was valid, yes,” Orr said, “but the process to get there is of concern.”

Verity Developments’ bid also included an estimate on the cost of construction — the second phase — for $1.87 million. That, however, does not guarantee the company will be the one to do the work.

North Saanich Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan said Verity’s planning work will be the property of the municipality once it’s complete. Council can, once phase one is complete, decide how to proceed. That could include forging ahead based on Verity’s bid or using the design plans to go back to the tender process. This method, Buchan said, helps the District maintain an advantage and competitive pricing.

The firehall project, he noted, went through a different process — the District paid for designs up front and then went to tender for the construction.

“This time, we’ve had a competitive process for the design work and the construction at the same time,” Buchan said, adding the two can be separated — which differs from a traditional design-build contract.

The $125,000 design contract could only be the beginning, however, as councillors indicated they wanted input throughout the initial planning stage to implement new ideas should they arise.

Coun. Murray Weisenberger — who noted he’s against the whole plan considering the talk of amalgamation in the Greater Victoria region —  said he wanted to see the inclusion of green building materials and equipment if council votes to proceed. Coun. Celia Stock said amalgamation is “years away,” if at all, but the municipal building needs the work now.

“We don’t have a healthy building. We don’t have a safe and secure building,” Stock said.

Finall said she sees no advantage in delaying the project.

Council voted 6-1 to move to phase one with Verity’s winning bid.