CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council received a presentation at their meeting on Monday night, April 11, about the ongoing re-design project of the Municipal Works Yard located on Ontario St.
The presentation, made by J.L. Richards & Associated Ltd., an engineering consulting firm out of Hawkesbury detailed how the projects costs have ballooned from $16.6 million to $25.3 million, a $8.7 million cost overrun.
The project began in 2016 and would see most of the aging buildings in the Municipal Works yard updated and replaced. J.L. Richards noted that the $8.7 million cost increase was an estimate at this time and that that number could grow, or shrink, by a margin of about 15 per cent.
A driving factor in the cost increases has been the growing cost of construction materials, which has gone up and up over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canadian Real Estate Magazine noted that in 2021, construction costs grew more over the course of that year, than they had in the previous three.
Other factors included general inflation, and the City calculating costs based on area, and not on design elements.
General Manager for Municipal Works Bill de Witt emphasized that many of the buildings in the yard were in need of repair or replacement, with some buildings having been constructed in the 1950s, with some of the newer ones having been constructed in the early 1980s.
A few members of Council wanted to press pause on the project and re-examine it because of the rising costs.
“A number of years ago, I raised concerns about this project as costs began trickling up,” said Councillor Justin Towndale. “Not to use hyperbole, but now they’re skyrocketing.”
“It is concerning to me. I think we need to stop and take a look and find a different way forward,” Towndale added. “I do think this project is necessary, but it also has to be fiscally sustainable. I can’t support this at this time the way it is presented.”
Other council members felt that the costs would not be falling any time soon, and any delay in the project would simply see the budget continue to grow.
“If we had acted on this in 2017 or ’18 we would be most of the way done now,” said Councillor Maurice Dupelle. “The longer we put it on hold, the more expensive it is going to be.”
The majority of Councillors voted in favour of moving ahead with the project.