As the Creston Emergency Services Building (CESB) is getting ready for operational status, the construction and project budget was finalized with the adoption of the Five Year Financial Plan (2022-2026) Amendment Bylaw at the September 27, 2022 Council Meeting. On July 26, 2022, Staff provided Council a report on the final costs and offsetting revenues to close out the project, prompting Council to amend their Five Year Financial plan.
With this final amendment increasing the project budget by $750,000, the CESB project cost is $9.9 million. The breakdown of funding is $4.5 million borrowing as approved in 2018 through referendum, $1.8 million from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), $1.7 million in grants (Canada Community Building Fund, Fortis and Province of BC) and $1.9 million reserves (including some savings specific to the fire hall project). With the project funding there will be no additional taxation related to the project.
“After the unsuccessful referendum for borrowing in 2017, we heard people say that we need to have some savings used to offset the borrowing for a new fire hall. In 2018 and subsequent budget years, Council increased taxation specifically to save for a new fire hall. That taxation is now what will be used to repay the $4.5 million debt, and it will not be necessary to increase taxes to pay for the increased cost”, said Mayor Ron Toyota.
The original $6.35 million project budget established in 2017 was adjusted several times, including the added expense related to the Council appointed community advisory committee and consultants after the initial unsuccessful referendum for borrowing.
“The project budget reflects the costs associated with this new building dating back many years. It was necessary for Council to work with the community and building professionals to understand the need for a fire hall and what it must have to get us through the next 50 to 100 years. The successful referendum for borrowing in 2018 was to borrow $4.5 million and the remainder of the costs will be funded from other sources” added Mayor Toyota.
As the building neared tendering in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Council needing to make difficult decisions to move the project forward. “We received tenders in July 2020 that estimated the cost of a new fire hall at $12.7 million. We had to re-think the process to get the project back to an affordable and functional building for our first responders and the community including following the construction market to the lowest cost structure built out of concrete that would meet post-disaster standards established by the building code”, Mayor Toyota explained.
In February 2021, Council adjusted the construction budget to $7 million due to the changes in the construction industry caused by the pandemic and supply chain shortages. This increased the project budget to $8.15 million inclusive of design, property purchase and legal fees. In September 2021, the individual construction tenders were 14% higher than estimates in February adding nearly $1 million to the project in the 2022 budget cycle.
“The project funding over the past few years has definitely changed. Originally it was planned that BC Ambulance (BCEHS) would be contributing $1 million towards the project, and now they are contributing over $1.8 million. The Town of Creston received $543,000 from the Canada Community Building Fund, another $60,000 grant from Fortis and $1,110,000 from the provincial
COVID-19 grant”, said Chief Administrative Officer Michael Moore. “This final budget amendment includes any outstanding professional fees, site servicing, paving and contingency for delays.”
The detailed Council staff report (located at www.creston.ca under Council Meeting Agendas for July 26, 2022) outlines the costs and revenues of the entire project dating back to the unsuccessful referendum for borrowing in 2017 and how the budget has been amended over the past four years. As with all infrastructure projects across all sectors, this project has faced many challenges related to the pandemic and supply chain shortages.
Mayor Toyota said of the project, “Cost increases have been experienced in the construction industry across North America due to extremely limited product supply. There’s no way around the fact that COVID impacted the cost and supply of all goods. With no data to suggest that costs and supply would improve, Council chose to move forward to complete this important facility for our first responders. Had we waited, there is almost no likelihood that the project would have decreased in cost. It is unfortunate that this building couldn’t have been completed prior to the pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues, but we are so pleased that after nearly ten years of discussion and planning, we are finally able to provide our first responders and our community with a facility that we can all be proud of”.