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Overbudget costs to haunt Hall Street Pier project as construction delays to next spring

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 27th, 2022

Rising costs and material delays are combining to push the city’s Hall Street Pier project to potentially five per cent over budget when it is completed next year, says the city’s director of Engineering, Capital Works and Special Projects.

Colin Innes told city council earlier this week, during its regular meeting at City Hall, that the $4.2-million project — which includes all scope elements, including the completion of the canopy — will likely come in $185,000 over budget.

“Although the project won’t be over budget for this year, for the full scope of the project there will have to be some additional funding put in there,” he said in his report to council.

“However, as the project team continues to work to address cost pressures, the ultimate cost pressure will continue to be revised.”

The city might have to look at some options like not delivering part of the project scope, Innes explained.

“And the most obvious piece of that is the canopy; we could offset some of the costs to help contain that and then look for future funding in order to do that,” he said.

The construction of the canopy would then turn into a phase two, he added.

As the project has progressed, there have been approximately $500,000 of project cost challenges that have been successfully mitigated with approximately $340,000 of project savings, Innes pointed out.

“However, there continue to be cost pressures that are keeping pressure on the project budget,” he said, including material delivery delays, up to several weeks in some cases.

That means a project originally slated for completion at the end of November is now pegged for April of next year.

“This project has been interesting because we have really hit a period of inflationary pressure that has caused things to move considerably from costs from estimators to where we’ve wound up,” Innes related. “I’ve never seen this kind of dynamic movement in this kind of thing before. It’s quite pronounced. The more you are extending a project out, there’s more costs you are incurring on site with the project.”

Cash crunch

Last year a class A estimate provided by Unitech Construction Management Ltd. (Unitech) came in at $4,434,009, including a contingency of $211,143.29.

The amount far exceeded the city’s budget of $2,600,000, so a request was made to undertake a “value engineering exercise” to bring the project within the city’s budget. This exercise resulted in 12 request-for-proposal documents being released and evaluated, said Innes.

“Due to the ongoing challenge with the budget, the project team proposed significant changes to the design,” he explained. “These changes resulted in the current design approach (swimming area). This design was able to achieve savings through this change in project scope.”

An estimated construction cost of $3,667,214.19 was achieved, with a contingency value of $152,358.

Further trouble

After the demo of the existing pier and the install of the piles started, it was identified that ground conditions would require bottom plates to be added and pile depths to be increased, in order to achieve the skin friction that was required to support the new structure.

This change was estimated as $141,000, said Innes.

“Due to this change resulting in a negative contingency balance, it was decided that any additional challenges to the budget in 2022 would be offset by the $360,000 that was budgeted for a canopy,” he said.

The design team was tasked with redesigning the canopy structure in an attempt to reduce the canopy cost.

“The reduced scale of the canopy is believed to be more compatible with the reduced pier size, while still maintaining the original architectural intent and gesture,” said Innes.

The reduced canopy will be sent for market pricing after the cladding details have been finalized. 

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