Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 28, 2013

‘It’s a continual lack of planning’: NDP critic

The three bids for construction of the new F.H. Collins Secondary School have come in well above the budget set out by the territorial government.

By Ashley Joannou on February 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

FISCAL COMPLICATION LOOMS – The territorial government has learned that the cheapest price for replacing 50-year-old F.H. Collins Secondary School (seen above in 2007) is nearly $10 million more than it expected. The bad news’ effect on the project remains unclear. Inset: JIM TEDGER and SANDY SILVER

The three bids for construction of the new F.H. Collins Secondary School have come in well above the budget set out by the territorial government.

It is not clear exactly what that means for the building of the new secondary school off Lewes Boulevard.

The deadline to bid for the project was Tuesday.

The three bids submitted range from nearly $48 million ($47,783,000) to $60 million.

The government’s estimate for the construction is listed as $38.6 million.

The lowest bid comes from EllisDon Corp. out of Richmond, B.C. according to the documents.

The highest is from Clark Builders of Yellowknife.

Graham Construction and Engineering from Delta, B.C., bid $50 million.

Kendra Black, a spokesperson for the Department of Highways and Public Works, said all three bids were reviewed and found to be compliant.

That means all the paperwork was completed and the proper bonding is in place.

Now the government is in the process of “evaluating the lowest bid,” Black told the Star.

As for what occurs next, Black said she is “not going to speculate as to what’s going to happen after that point.”

The deadline for tenders was extended by one month earlier this year.

At the time, Cynthia Tucker, the assistant deputy minister of public works, said the extension was made at the request of industry and would “allow for better pricing, and we think we’ll get a better project overall longer-term.”

The $38.6-million construction budget is part of the larger $55 million the government has earmarked for the complete project, including design and site preparation.

The high bids are leading to questions from opposition politicians about the current government’s financial management.

“When the education minister (Scott Kent) took over (following the 2011 election), he said he was going to delay the project a year so he could get his head wrapped around the project,” interim Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said today.

“This makes me wonder what sort of planning or work was done over the year,” added the Klondike MLA, a teacher by profession.

Official opposition education critic Jim Tredger, also a former educator, is calling on the government to have a better timeline in place, with more community consultation.

“I thought that’s what was happening after (the delays) last summer,” he said today.

Tredger said the process is leaving teachers and students confused over what is being done ­– and when.

When the lowest bid comes in about 25 per cent over-budget, there is clearly a lack of communication somewhere, he said.

“The reality is, we don’t know who is going to be building the school, when it’s going to be built or for how much.”

Both Silver and Tredger point to an auditor general’s report released this week that criticized the government on its planning and decision-making process surrounding hospitals being built in Watson Lake and Dawson City. (See separate coverage, p. 3.)

“It’s a continual lack of planning” Tredger said.

A spokesman for Kent said this morning the matter is in the hands of the Department of Highways and Public Works, not the Department of Education.

The new school will replace the current structure, which opened in 1963.

It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2015, with the demolition of the gym beginning late this winter or early spring.

A fierce outcry rose in late 2012 after the government initially indicated it would not pursue alternate gym plans for the students while the new school was being built.

It later backtracked on that strategy, opting to provide a temporary facility.

The government’s estimate for a completed school, including furnishings, equipment and other incidentals, is about $55 million.

CommentsAdd a comment


Feb 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Not at all surprising for a poorly planned, overly complicated, bad design.  Many local contractors refused to bid because of the bad design.

No doubt we’ll end up with another fiasco like the the two hospitals now in the news. 

Same underlying problem: poorly planned, overly complicated, bad design.

Arn Anderson

Feb 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Lowest bid = cutting corners, crappy materials, shipped in $10 hour workers, and the task wasn’t seriously taken.

Yes, sometimes the lowest bid works but most of the time, you get what you pay for and you are stuck with a crappy building with doubled the maintenance costs. But hey, thats GDP growth for you and if the GDP is happy, everything is FINE AND DANDY.

Arn Anderson

Feb 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Oh, I forgot to comment on the

‘It’s a continual lack of planning’: NDP critic

This is funny to me, why?, because of the lack of planning and foresight in the NDP/Liberal parties explains why they have lost elections constantly. Failed planners vs people who planned things, hmmmmm, who are you going to choose?


Mar 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm

If these so called experts put forward a report showing how the cost should be broken down then why is the government not comparing the prices against their base line to see where the costs are higher?

That Arn is a lack of evaluation and planning and I don’t care what politic colours you wear.

Jonathan Colby

Mar 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

YTG was told they would save millions if they built the school on the field, then built the field over the old school. The response was no, because they wanted to preserve the old trades wing. Uh, what? New trades wing, and cheaper than the manhandled monster the intrepid engineers have clumsily assembled? Why would you ever say no to that!?

Jonathan Colby

Mar 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I’m almost certain the lowest bid was made possible because of a co-operative effort with local contractors on the part of EllisDon. Also, this project had addenda more voluminous than the actual tender. I’m certain that many contractors offered higher prices to guard their interests, and rightly so: their prices will likely be closer to the final price tag.

YTG was offered the option of building the school on top of the current field, but refused, for the reason (as I hear it) of preserving the old trades wing. This option would have saved millions, completely negated the gymnasium controversy, and spared us many of what will become costly changes, delays, and mistakes that come from building something new aside something occupied


Mar 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm

It can’t be described as anything more than overwhelming incompetence.

Who was the mouth-breather that thought they’d save money by hanging onto the trades wing crunched up against the southern property line?

Had they built the school on the existing track this project would be halfway through completion with no costly interruption to the gym (which will now cost millions more) Then Kent needed to delay a year to ‘wrap his head around the project’ costing an additional 10+ million and what do we have to show for it?  A nice sign that says ‘Coming Soon’.


Arn Anderson

Mar 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm

My comments generate NO replies just likes and dislikes. It seems hmmmmm in your lack of planning you failed to plan for it. Who else from the opposition is gonna jump on the “we don’t need hospitals” bandwagon.

“When the lowest bid comes in about 25 per cent over-budget, there is clearly a lack of communication somewhere, he said.” Yes, and the continued lack of communication to voters from the NDP/Liberal parties explain why they cannot win seats.

Jonathan Colby

Mar 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

For myself, Arn, I don’t engage you because you ramble. Your habits of punctuation make it difficult to interpret what it is you are saying. If you don’t take the time to communicate clearly, it doesn’t seem worth it to spend the time needed to slog through your words. Furthermore, inside your words are hyperbole, divisive partisan politics, and inflammatory intentions. Perhaps people don’t require your brand of drama while discussing matters that affect them.

Arn Anderson

Mar 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Sorry Jonathan, your perfect grammar ramble has no impact on the story. There is ZERO divisive partisan politics, that’s what you want to read, that’s not my fault for your politically divided brain. Now onto REAL discussion. Spend a little bit more and get at least 200 years out of the building, enough of these short-term life buildings that seem to be replaced in 50 years.

Sylvia Burkhard

Mar 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Arn, I also find your ramblings puzzling.  What I find amazing here is that no one at YTG learned from past mistakes trying to keep part of a building when building a new one.  The rec centre in Dawson is case #1, for some idiotic reason the powers that be decided to keep the frame so the ground couldn’t be prepared properly, voila, une grande white elephant.  #2 the fiasco in Watson Lake in keeping what was to be extended care? (can’t remember the exact title) and build the hospital around it, that involved many YP officials who benefited. I think FHC will be the big pink elephant.  Start over, build the school in the yard and then move in, presto, simple but don’t forget YP doesn’t do simple and effective—ever.


Mar 5, 2013 at 3:22 am

I was contacted by EllisDon regarding getting a bid I told them that though I had looked at the plans I was not interested in bidding it because I knew it would come in overbudget and would likely get cancelled…

Also of the three final bids EllisDon was the only one that I heard from.


Mar 6, 2013 at 10:54 pm

The new school should be built on the field.  The Trades Wing can operate where it is without being attached to the school.
This will be another clusterfrack project like the jail, and the two new hospitals.

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