Fire trustees have accepted a general contracting bid of $3.7 million to build a new fire hall on North Road.
That’s $200,000 under the $3.9 million the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District (GFPID) board estimated the building will cost noted Fire Trustee David Swanson at their Wednesday meeting at Fire Hall # 1 on North Road. GFPID Chair Mark Noyon added that the LARK Group – the company that won the contract – is committed to the $3.7 million bid, barring “some unusual organics” on the building site. Fire Trustee Al Barton said that LARK would have to cover any cost overruns on their bid.
Fire Chief Rick Jackson said when they got a quantitative survey on the probable costs of the building, the fire board told the surveyors “do not price this best case, price it realistically”. He said it looked like they did.
Noyon said the bidding for eight short-listed contractors closed on July 24, after which the building committee and Architect Kim Johnston reviewed the tenders. LARK came in with the lowest bid, Noyon said. He said that included some ‘break-out pricing’, which gives the GFPID the ability to assess whether there are some components of the building they don’t need.
Fire Trustee Al Barton asked if the tenders with the lowest price were necessarily the best. Noyon said with the pre-qualification process used by the fire board, “unless you can justify why” one generally goes with the lowest bid.
Fire Trustee Sandra Rudischer said “we’re very confident that the long-term debt will be below $2.3 million” – the amount which a recent referendum gave permission to the fire board to borrow.
Noyon said there were 22 original submissions for the pre-qualification process. He said “there was a check-list of things they had to meet, or else they were disqualified”. After that he said the GFPID Building Committee looked at all the requirements, including the use of local trades in the building process, and “we just ranked them according to that”.
The rationale for coming up with a short-list of eight, Noyon added, was that if there were too many, people would think there was no point in applying, and if there were too few, contractors would increase their price.
Jackson said some of the criteria they looked for were: experience with fire halls and projects $3 million or more; ability to do the job; how many jobs they had on the go; and time frame. He said LARK “has built all kinds of large structures”.
Noyon said LARK can start right away. He said: “Their time frame for their tendering is August of next year, and that included not starting until the end of September. If they start next week, technically they could be that much earlier”. That means, he said, “that we can get into the provincial government for the October (financing) deadline”.
As previously reported, the board is required to seek interim financing for the hall, because the Province does not lend money for projects until they are completed. Financial windows for borrowing from the Province are March and November.
Noting that the GFPID still has to get a building permit, Noyon thought the $32,380 required for the permit was “excessive”. He said as “this is taxpayer’s money”, the GFPID Communication Committee will ask to have that “reduced substantially”. He said as the building has been designed by architects and engineers, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) building department will only be assessing the building process. He said once notice of the board’s motion to approve LARK as its general contractor has been mailed, the permit will be the only thing preventing the project from getting started.
Jackson noted that the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) also got a break on their permit for the urgent treatment room and medical offices in the community clinic on the top of Church Street. As previously reported, GHCF applied to have half their permit waived. Instead they were given a grant-in-aid, as RDN board members said waiving the fees would be in contravention of policy.
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