Price tag for Sylvan Lake fire hall spikes

Sylvan Lake’s new fire hall is already behind schedule and now council has learned the price tag could jump $1.6 million.

Sylvan Lake’s new fire hall is already behind schedule and now council has learned the price tag could jump $1.6 million.

A new cost projection presented to council on Monday estimates the project will cost around $6.2 million.

That spike gave council pause and a motion to approve that budget was defeated. Instead, council asked staff to bring back some more information on the project and its rising costs no later than the March 24 meeting.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said for most of council last night’s presentation was their first introduction to the project. They were reluctant to go ahead with a $5 million borrowing bylaw without more background.

They wanted to know how the design and location were chosen as part of a full review of the project.

McIntyre said the initial numbers were a preliminary estimate. When the project went to the architects, a more detailed estimate was provided based on recent similar projects around the province.

One of the big cost increases is related to the site work for the fire hall that is proposed for a site just north of the town’s RCMP station on Beacon Hill on 50th Street a few blocks south of town centre.

Preliminary budgeting tagged site improvements as a $125,000 item, but the revised budget boosts the costs of getting the site ready for a building to $900,000. The increase is largely to reconfigure the site that slopes five metres from one corner to the other.

“The costs to reshape the land are definitely the biggest issues we’re facing right now,” McIntyre acknowledged.

When the site was chosen several years ago it was picked for its geographic advantages and proximity to future growth areas on the west side of town. The existing fire hall is located further to the east side of town.

“Topographically, is where we’re running into challenges on this site,” he said, adding council wants to see if there are ways to reduce site development costs.

Another location has not been considered at this point, “however we’re not ruling anything out,” he added.

This is not the first time the town has had to wrestle with fire hall costs. The cost of the building alone was estimated at $3.3 million, but when estimates came in the price had climbed to $4.3 million.

To trim the budget, the original 19,000-square-foot building was reduced to 13,925 square feet (later increased to 14,500 square feet). New pre-tender estimates put the building cost at $3.7 million.

The latest estimate puts the cost of the building alone at just under $5.1 million.

Council was informed last month the fire hall won’t be ready until July 2015 at the earliest — eight months behind schedule.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com