Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

The city’s new operations building off Range Road is a sprawling 115,000 square feet. It’s expected to be ready for occupancy in March.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

The building has eight bays measuring 80 metres in length.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

The bay designated for mechanical work is outfitted with a 10-tonne overhead crane.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Each of the bay doors is quick opening and quick closing.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A portion of the office area looks out over the yard.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Staff facilities include a dry area where outside workers can hang their wet gear, individual lockers and large washrooms

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Four bays will be dedicated for use by the transit department. Each bay could accommodate five buses parked end-to-end, with room to spare.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Wayne Tuck

Change orders delay move into building

Now several months behind schedule, the city is not expecting to move staff into the new operations building until late March, says city engineer Wayne Tuck.

By Chuck Tobin on January 10, 2020

Now several months behind schedule, the city is not expecting to move staff into the new operations building until late March, says city engineer Wayne Tuck.

As the result of many change orders in the project, Tuck said, the work is just taking longer than expected.

The city had been hoping the building would be ready in September or October 2019, but with the change orders come delays, Tuck explained in a recent interview before taking the Star on a tour of the building.

He emphasized while the construction portion of the overall budget has increased to $43.6 million from Ketza Construction’s original bid of $39.3 million, the project is still coming in under the overall budget of $52.4 million.

Last summer, city council briefly discussed the possibility of going after the design consultant that’s managing the project because of the cost overruns.

At that point, there were more than 200 change orders.

It was suggested by staff, however, that going after the company might cost more than it’s worth.

Council did not pursue the matter.

Tuck said it’s looking like the building will be completed next month, though the city will still need some time to go over things before staff start moving in.

The building is 115,000 square feet, with eight massive double-door bays so that vehicles can drive in one door and out the other.

They’re 80 metres long, or long enough to handle five city transit buses parked end-to-end, with room to spare.

One of the bays is dedicated for mechanical and repair work. The tool boxes are already in place, and there’s a 10-tonne overhead crane in case mechanics have to pull an engine or move around something heavy.

There’s a change area with individual lockers and showers, along with a large room where staff can hang their wet clothing.

The labyrinth of office space is adorned with full-length windows that stretch from the ceiling to the floor.

On the roof is an array of photovoltaic solar panels that will provide all the electricity the building needs during the peak sunshine months of the summer.

It’s expected there’ll even be a little extra to sell back to the grid. It will be a different story in the winter months when the panels are not expected to produce much at all – not enough to justify keeping them clear of snow.

Across the parking lot from the operations building is a building with three wash bays – one for transit buses, one for other large city vehicles and one for small vehicles.

Tuck said they’ve not finalized the order in which the different departments will move in.

In the end, however, the building will house the water and waste crew, building operations, transportation, the sign shop, human resources, engineering and the transit department.

But not everybody from the aging Municipal Services Building (MSB) on Fourth Avenue is moving in, he pointed out.

He said departments like the IT department, building inspections, lands and planning won’t be leaving the MSB until the new addition to city hall is ready.

The request for proposals to design and manage construction of the addition was issued Dec. 16 with a closing date of Jan. 24 though they may be extending the deadline by a week, he said.

Tuck said the design work will take about a year. It’s expected the project proposal will be ready for council’s review in April 2021, with construction to begin that spring, he said.

The addition and the retrofit of city hall is budgeted at $20.8 million. The project requires the demolition of the fire hall next door.

Firefighters are scheduled to move into their new $4-million hall across from the Kwanlin Dün Culture Centre in late March.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

Max Mack on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:47 pm

True cost, all-in, including new castle on the hill and new fire station and new ambulance station and new bus warming station, and old fire station and old ambulance station and old MSB - which were all supposed to be deprecated - and the impending bus hub, plus changes to infrastructure (e.g streets, sewer, water) . . .

Betcha this is going to be over $100 million.

Up 10 Down 3

A great Wonderment on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm

There is a 10 ton crane hoist for pulling engines in case the City needs to? What do you need to pull engines for when you buy new buses on a lark? I'd be surprised if the dip sticks have ever even been disturbed from their seats. "Bill's Foley".

Up 17 Down 2

Never Mind on Jan 14, 2020 at 3:39 pm

I've been in that building. The quality of workmanship on the heating system is so disgusting, I'd almost be embarrassed to work on it.

Up 27 Down 0

My Opinion on Jan 14, 2020 at 10:26 am

The Bottom Line is.
We were told that the efficiency of a new building would make this cost effective. I will be waiting to see those numbers. Demanding to see those numbers.

Up 37 Down 1

Anie on Jan 12, 2020 at 2:11 pm

BnR, in reply to your comment, I did attend meetings and, more importantly, I read the report on city facilities that instigated the new operations building. I accepted the expert findings that concluded the MSB building had to go, and I supported the decision to build. That's why I'm so angry, because now the city staff seem to be saying MSB has a lot of life in it. The same staff said, years ago, that the old two mile hill fire hall had to be dismantled. And it's still standing, still being used. Some people seem to have been flim flaming council for decades. It's time for council members to start asking questions before and after. How many capital projects get sold to council with unreasonably low estimates, by the same departments, over and over again?

Up 45 Down 5

Wilf Carter on Jan 11, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Remember the mayor bragging about how it would only cost $39 million but the true cost is $52 million.

Up 7 Down 48

Miles Epanhauser on Jan 11, 2020 at 9:03 am

The city has made some important and valuable improvements to their infrastructure.
Sure it seems expensive and there have been many changes but a few years down the road this building complex will be viewed as visionary.

Up 39 Down 6

My Opinion on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Wait a minute did I read that correct? The Mechanics Tool Boxes are in there already?????? Is the City outfitting everyone with new tools? $80,000 a box????

Up 50 Down 2

My Opinion on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:45 pm

The old MSB building was too costly to heat and this new building was going to solve all of that.

Let’s see 8 Bays 250 + feet long Roll up doors at both ends. 16 huge doors in total. Plus the Huge Wash Bays and their doors. Roll up doors are inherently inefficient. Probably about R10 let alone all the leaks around them. Bringing in the entire fleet of vehicles and warm them up. Nobody anywhere does that. The furnaces will never shut off.

Now MSB will be heated including the Shop just to house the last few for another three years.
This was all premised on a cost saving as apposed to the high costs of heating MSB. I want to see these numbers. What a travesty.

Up 22 Down 35

BnR on Jan 10, 2020 at 5:18 pm

More people complaining about city projects, yet couldn't be bothered to attend the city council meetings when all these projects were discussed.
If you were that concerned, the time to critique the projects and budgets was a while ago. I guess watching Simpsons re-runs seemed more important at the time.

Up 75 Down 10

Anie on Jan 10, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Whoa, wait a minute. The City sold us on this new operations building based on a report that said the existing MSB building was on its last legs and would cost too much to retrofit. Now we are told that MSB will still be used, at least until the city hall addition is completed and that project won't even go to council for project approval for another 14 months! That means MSB, the building that had to be replaced, will continue to be used for at least another 3 years! What the heck, somebody's job should be on the line. And it's pretty clear that some long term staff really need to retire and get out of the way.

Up 71 Down 10

Matthew on Jan 10, 2020 at 3:01 pm

Oh I see.. 20M to update city hall.. while gov and its employees get the newest and best the rest of us have higher and new taxes to pay for it all.. yay, go citizens!

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