Elkford’s municipally-spurred daycare project has hit a snag at the tender phase, receiving one submission around $847,000 over budget, excluding taxes.
In a staff report to the District of Elkford council on March 14, chief administrative officer Tyler Madsen sought “direction on how to proceed with the Elkford Childcare Centre and Community Hub” project, which is planned to include 28 childcare spaces and has been in the works since September 2020. The project is a collaboration with the Elkford Women’s Task Force Society.
When The Free Press spoke with Madsen about the project in January, he said the hope was that the centre, set to be located in the old district office at 816 Michel Rd., would open its doors by September, 2022.
Madsen’s March 14 report to council says that the construction tender package was issued on Feb. 15, which was right on schedule according to the original plan.
The report continues: “Following this, a non-mandatory pre-bid meeting was held on site where a total of eight contractors attended, both as general contractors and potential sub-contractors.”
The tender closed on March 8, and the district only received one submission for an amount of $2,627,139.27, excluding taxes. The budget for the project was set at $1.78 million, funded through grants from the BC New Spaces Fund, Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, and the Columbia Basin Trust, the report reads.
“In reviewing the bid with the contractor, it was identified that the bulk of the costs are a result of: general conditions and requirements; bringing the electrical and HVAC systems up to meet current BC Building Code.”
Those two items made up about half of the tendered price, the report reads, with “a relatively small portion” of the cost being related to “site works and structural components of the project.”
“The original grant applications were submitted in the fall of 2020. Other factors which may have contributed to the overall cost include significant increase in building materials and general global uncertainty.”
“As the tender cost exceeds the district’s budget, staff cannot recommend awarding the project as tendered. If Council wishes to defer other capital projects and reallocate funds to this project to make up approximately $1.5 million (including contingencies), staff will return with possible solutions and return to Council with amendments to the Five-Year Financial Plan.”
The option of amending the five year plan and deferring other capital projects was not passed, however. Madsen instead added a fourth option for council, beyond the initial three that were included in the report.
“Essentially this option was to support staff in approaching local contractors to do a design review and get our own estimates for the work, and then return to Council with further options and direction,” Madsen said in an email to The Free Press.
The next steps in the process are for district staff to review the building design with their contractors to identify possible cost reductions, and then review that with their design consulting team, he said.
In order to bring the Elkford Childcare Centre and Community Hub to fruition, “the district either needs to find other funding sources, reduce the cost by modifying the design, or a combination of both,” Madsen said.
Madsen also pointed out to The Free Press that a similar daycare-construction-cost-funding-gap issue had recently taken place in Prince George, saying it “doesn’t seem like we are isolated on this cost issue.”
“Prince George faced the same problem and managed to increase their funds from the province for the BC Childcare New Spaces Fund. We have also reached out to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for more details and to see if there is an opportunity for more funds from the province to support the project here in Elkford.”