New city hall reno tops $ 18M

The Expositor (Brantford) - - FRONT PAGE - VIN­CENT BALL EXPOSITOR STAFF

City coun­cil­lors sup­port spend­ing an ad­di­tional $ 4,131,000 to trans­form the for­mer Fed­eral Build­ing into the new city hall.

Coun­cil­lors at a com­mit­tee meet­ing this week voted 8- 2 in favour of the ex­pen­di­ture. Their rec­om­men­da­tion will come be­fore coun­cil for ap­proval at a June 26 meet­ing.

If ap­proved, that will mean the cost of project will in­crease to just over $ 18 mil­lion.

The city pur­chased the build­ing at 70 Dal­housie St. from the fed­eral govern­ment for $ 5.9 mil­lion in De­cem­ber 2016.

Although the cost in­crease is hefty, sev­eral coun­cil­lors said it is the proper course of ac­tion.

“This is the right thing to do and his­tory will show that it’s the right thing to do,” said Ward 2 Coun. John Sless, adding at con­sol­i­dat­ing mu­nic­i­pal staff at one build­ing will re­sults in sav­ings of at least $ 800,000 an­nu­ally.

“There’s no doubt, there’s a need for this fa­cil­ity,” said Ward 1 Coun. Larry Kings.

“We have to rec­og­nize that,” he said.

“There could be some in­come from the sale of sur­plus build­ings and there will be lo­cal jobs for com­pa­nies that get ren­o­va­tion con­tracts.”

Mayor Chris Friel said that coun­cil­lors knew that the ear­lier ren­o­va­tion fig­ure likely would in­crease.

“Those num­bers were pro­jec­tions, they weren’t fi­nal and we knew that,” Friel said. “We’re con­sol­i­dat­ing our op­er­a­tions, and we’re in­creas­ing the amount of space that we’re ren­o­vat­ing.

“I’m in com­plete sup­port of this mov­ing for­ward.”

The city owns or man­ages more than 13,935 square me­tres, or 150,000 square feet, at six ad­min­is­tra­tive fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing city hall, 85 Mar­ket St., Mar­ket Square at 1 Mar­ket St., 180 Green­wich St., 1- 3 Sher­wood Dr. and the vis­i­tor and tourism cen­tre on Wayne Gret­zky Park­way.

Vot­ing against the in­crease were Ward 5 Coun. Brian Van Til­borg and Ward 3 Coun. Dan McCreary.

“I can’t sup­port ren­o­va­tion costs that go higher and higher than bud­geted,” Van Til­borg said. “This is a mas­sive in­crease over the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate and I fear we’re go­ing to have more in­creases in the fu­ture if we don’t get on top of this now.

“It’s not like we got the build­ing for $ 1.”

There is no room for cost over­runs, Van Til­borg said.

Prior to vot­ing, coun­cil­lors re­viewed a hefty re­port that out­lined the rea­sons for the cost in­crease.

One of the big­gest fac­tors is an in­crease in the amount of space to be ren­o­vated to ac­com­mo­date staff.

City of­fi­cials are now look­ing at ren­o­vat­ing 7,710 square me­tres, or 83,000 square feet. The ear­lier es­ti­mates called for the ren­o­va­tion of 7,153 square me­tres, or 77,000 square feet.

There’s no doubt, there’s a need for this fa­cil­ity.” Coun. Larry Kings

That will add just over $ 1.3 mil­lion to the ren­o­va­tion cost.

The city also is look­ing an in­crease in the cost for re­mov­ing as­bestos in­su­la­tion to $ 332,500, up from $ 67,500,

And in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture in­creased to $ 332,000 from $ 132,000.

Orig­i­nally, it was thought that much of the ex­ist­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­bling could be reused but, af­ter closer in­spec­tion, city of­fi­cials said it must be re­placed. In ad­di­tion, me­chan­i­cal equip­ment in the build­ing needs to be im­proved and re­placed at an ad­di­tional cost of $ 479,700.

BRIAN THOMPSON/ THE EXPOSITOR

The for­mer Fed­eral Build­ing on downtown Dal­housie Street will be ren­o­vated for use as Brant­ford's new city hall.

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