When the Town of Blackfalds was first approached to buy a former trucking company site to convert into a municipal facility, the offer was $8.3 million for eight acres and three buildings.
That price tag was a little high, so the town held off — a strategy that has paid dividends.
A deal will soon be closed to spend $5 million to buy the trucking firm’s three buildings and 10 acres to bring the town’s public works and parks and recreation departments under one roof and provide a new home for the community’s three peace officers.
“We figure we’re saving at least $3 million and have a facility that meets our needs right now and into the future,” said town chief administrative officer Myron Thompson.
“When the economy is slow like this, that’s the time to add assets.”
Thompson said about $3.25 million was already in the town’s five-year capital plant to expand its public works facility and add a snow dump. On Tuesday, council approved first reading of a bylaw to borrow $5 million for the expanded civic project.
The town — which has been one of the fastest growing small communities in the country — has long known it needed new space. Existing facilities were built when 3,000 to 4,000 people lived in Blackfalds, which topped the 10,000 mark last year.
Both the town’s 2016 municipal sustainability plan and a 2018 civic facilities development strategy called for expanding public works and parks facilities and combining the departments at one location to save money and boost efficiency.
The town had previously estimated the the cost of doing all of the necessary civic upgrades at $8.34 million.
“The $8.34 million was based on current costs, and we know that when the economy recovers, it would probably be higher than that.”
Once the town moves into its new buildings, the existing public works building is being eyed as the site of a satellite fire station, as well as a possible site for future environmental services, such as recycling and compost.
Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said council reviewed the available options and “concluded that the purchase of this property is the best choice for our community at this time.”
“Not only will our fleet and heavy equipment have a longer service life span due to storage opportunities, but we will be able to undertake expanded and improved maintenance with our forces.”
The former home of Andy’s Oilfield Hauling, the site includes a furnished 5,000-square-foot office with meeting spaces and a reception area open to the public. The office building includes a pair of storage bays, adding another 3,200 square feet.
A five-bay, 17,000-square-foot shop and eight-bay, 14,400-square-foot storage facility are also part of the complex.
Blackfalds has not been the only central Alberta municipality to reap the savings from the competitive pricing environment the lingering economic downturn has created.
In recent years, Red Deer County ramped up its construction spending to take advantage of tenders that, in some cases, were coming in at half boom-time prices.