Revelstoke city councillors expressed concern over much higher than anticipated costs for the Thomas Brook project. City staff recommended Jake Jay Construction be awarded the tender for the project with a bid of $1.084 million. This was lower than the two other bids received, but still puts the project total at 24% higher than a pre-tender estimate.
City council did approve the tender, but not without noting their concerns over the price.
“I recognize it’s really difficult to figure out estimates, but I’m wondering if there is a way we can do something better to make sure we don’t run into difficulties for budgeting purposes,” Councillor Connie Brothers said. “If you put two or three of these projects in a year it can be difficult for budgeting.”
Chief Administrative Officer Alan Chabot said in the past few years, the city has undergone more capital projects than it has for a number of years. He also stated that often the experience of engineering consultants is in larger centers.
“What they’ve found is unit prices for work are quite a lot higher in this community,” said Chabot. “This is a problem. Nobody likes to see a project 24% over the estimate.”
Councillor Aaron Orlando said he felt it would be beneficial to know ahead of time if the estimated cost of a project would be higher than anticipated, based on current market pricing and other variables.
“My main concern is the public perception of these things,” said Orlando, pointing out that often the public doesn’t have access to details as to why the cost of a project may increase.
Chabot said city staff try to get as accurate a budget as possible for all projects, but it’s not a perfect science.
“We try to get as accurate a budget as we can. We don’t want to over estimate and over tax. We’re at the mercy of the market,” he said.
Mayor Mark McKee said he felt it was important that the project go ahead as it directly impacts people in the Thomas Brook area having access to potable water.
“This project has been in the works for a few years. It’s only in the past bit a budget has been attached. Then it had to go through approvals. By the time we do a budget cost and what we’re doing today (approving the tender), a lot of time has lapsed. I just think it’s culmination of everything,” he said. “These people have been waiting for potable water for so long. I would hate to go back to the drawing board.”