Free beer tomorrow
By Chad Ingram
During a Minden Hills committee-of-the-whole meeting last week, councillors received a report confirming there will likely be no surplus on the township’s arena project.
What a shock.
Back when the project was getting underway, the supposed benefits of its “integrated project delivery” design were frequently touted by the township’s mayor, the now-former community services director, and the construction and architecture companies team that got the very lucrative contract. Amid community concerns about the project’s immense price tag, we were told, again and again, about the miracles of the framework’s “profit pool.” The profit pool was to be where any savings found via subcontracting contracts on the project would be kept, to be split between the companies, which oversaw tendering sub-trades, and the township when the project was complete.
Back in July of last year, with the contingency fund sitting at nearly $300,000, $80,000 was “released,” $40,000 of it going to the companies, and $40,000 to the township, since the construction company “felt comfortable” with it at the time, the township’s now-former community services director said. Later in the year, the construction company came back to council, asking for, and receiving, an additional $250,000 to complete the project, bringing its total budget to a staggering $12.75 million.
Even with that additional money, there is no money left over. There is no profit pool. Not even a kiddie-sized one. And there was never going to be.
very first phase of the project, the so-called “validation phase” –
essentially a series of engineering assessments – went way over the
amount council had approved for it. Council had initially approved
$140,000 for the validation phase and ultimately, all-in, with
additional work, legal expenses and meeting costs – including conference
calls and lunches – it ended up costing $353,000. A bad start and a
crystal clear indication of how the rest of project was going to go.
But at the time, we were told not to fret. Through the tendering processes there would be savings, and at the end, the companies and the township would bask in the glory of the profit pool, the township’s share of those funds going to pay for “value-added items” at the facility, those items ranging from a retractable stage to murals to office furniture.
There are $440,000 worth of “value-added items” on that list, $130,000 of which can be paid for through an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, leaving approximately $310,000 for the township to deal with. The only item council seems particularly concerned about at this point is office furniture for community services staff. Because that’s what we’re left with. A nearly $13-million facility with no office furniture in it.
Even the quotes for these value-added items that came through the construction company have been subject to significant markups from its initial estimates. In the words of Councillor Bob Carter, “Our markups are 82 per cent and they estimated 20. They were that far off?”
seems clear that those remaining items will be dealt with in-house, or
through township-led tendering processes. As Carter said, “I don’t think
we need our engineers and construction company to be helping us with
our interior decorating.”
We sure don’t. It’s time for them to finish up and get out. This ride has gone on long enough.
The first misstep in this process took place about 15 months ago when four of seven members of Minden Hills council voted to award a multi-million project to a lone bidder. On such a substantial project, the township should have waited until it had at least three competitive bids.