Cornwall fire station construction costs soaring

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The estimated cost to build a new fire station in Cornwall has jumped more than $1.5 million since January 2020, council heard in late May.

The facility to be built on the northwestern corner of Tollgate Road West and Brookdale Avenue – once estimated to cost $8-9 million, now has a rough cost estimate of $9.97 million. That doesn’t include the nearly $2 million the city has already spend on land and engineering.

Despite the escalating cost, council voted to proceed with the project.

Orlando Barone, J.L. Richards and Associates senior architect and project manager, presented the conceptual architectural design and estimated costs for the new station.

The facility to be constructed at the northwestern corner of Tollgate Road West and Brookdale Avenue was estimated to cost $8 million and now has a rough cost estimate of $9.97 million. Another $2 million has been spent on land acquisition and engineering.

Design includes plans to make the new station a “post disaster” structure that has increased visibility in the community, improved training facilities, decontamination facilities and meets accessibility standards and strives for a low or zero carbon footprint.

A training area now roughed in but not fully developed was questioned by councillors who said it was originally a big plus for the facility. CAO Maureen Adams explained the training area will be developed in the future with a separate business case and buy-in from neighbouring municipalities as a regional training centre.

Councillor Dean Hollingsworth asked about the impact that inflation and material costs could have on the project.

“I realize that the construction industry has been crazy, so I get that you’re doing your best guess, but what’s the current rate of inflation on these projects from the time we approve it today to the time we put the shovels in the ground to the time we put the final dab of paint on the building saying welcome to the fire department?” he asked.

Presenters advised council to consider “a lot of things” including the impact that COVID has had on the construction world and the impact the supply chain has had on building materials.

“We do have knowledge that COVID will be a factor,” Barone said. “It’s impossible to quantify that as a contingency, but we have to be aware that it will be a factor.”

Escalation rates for typical projects during the pandemic have increased compared to pre-COVID times. While they have to “monitor it as we go,” project superintendent Sabastian Racine told council “The risk is there … the current market is in big fluctuation right now.”

He used the example of the steel industry where costs have jumped 100 per cent in the past year.

While they didn’t like the price tag, others on council like Dean Hollingsworth, felt pausing would only cost the city more down the road, especially with the hyperinflation of costs for building materials in the construction industry. “The numbers aren’t working for me,” Hollingsworth said in reluctantly agreeing to proceed.

Council voted 9 to 2 to approve the design.

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