With construction complete, the Creston Emergency Services Building (CESB) is getting ready for operational status.
On July 26, town staff provided council with a report on the final costs and offsetting revenues to close out the project. From this, the construction and project budget was finalized with the adoption of the Five Year Financial Plan (2022-2026) Amendment Bylaw at the Sept. 27 town council meeting.
With this final amendment increasing the project budget by $750,000, the final costs to complete the CESB total $9.9 million. The breakdown of funding includes $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 from reserves (with 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,” said Mayor Ron Toyota. “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.”
After the initial unsuccessful referendum for borrowing, the original $6.35 million project budget established in 2017 was adjusted several times.
“The project budget reflects the costs associated with this new building dating back many years,” said Toyota. “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.”
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. Tenders were received in July 2020 that estimated project costs to skyrocket to $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,” said Toyota. “This included following the construction market to the lowest cost structure - built out of concrete - that would meet post-disaster standards established by the building code.”
In February 2021, council adjusted the budget to $7 million due to the changes in the construction industry caused by the pandemic and supply chain shortages. This further increased the project budget to $8.15 million inclusive of design, property purchase, and legal fees.
“There’s no way around the fact that COVID impacted the cost and supply of all goods,” said Toyota. “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.”
In September 2021, the individual construction tenders were 14 per cent higher than estimates from earlier that year, adding nearly $1 million to the project in the 2022 budget cycle.
“The project funding over the past few years has definitely changed,” said Chief Administrative Officer Michael Moore. “This final budget amendment includes any outstanding professional fees, site servicing, paving and contingency for delays.”
He added that the original plan was for BCEHS to contribute $1 million towards the project, and now that has increased to over $1.8 million. The Town of Creston also 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.
“It is unfortunate that this building couldn’t have been completed prior to the pandemic,” said Toyota. “But we are so pleased that after nearly 10 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.”
To view the detailed staff report outing the costs of the entire project, visit creston.ca, click on Agendas & Minutes and use the calendar to view the July 26, 2022 meeting documents. The report dates back to the 2017 referendum and includes how the budget has been amended over the past four years.