The Yukon government will likely tack on at least another $3.3 million to construction costs at the F.H. Collins Secondary School building site — already budgeted at $38.6 million — according to government documents.
A request for proposals sent out Wednesday by the Department of Highways and Public Works expects the planned upgrade to the school’s technical education wing will run the government more than $3.33 million, based on a cost estimate by Stantec, a design and consulting firm.
The department, however, has only allocated $3 million to the project.
“We’re not necessarily convinced that this government does a great job of staying on budget,” Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said in an interview today.
“It’s only based on our once-bitten, twice-shy experiences with this government.”
Silver was referring partly to the cabinet pegging the original design for the school reconstruction at $38.6 million in December 2012, despite the fact that a consultant projected the cost at $43.7 million.
The government decided in March 2013 to scrap the original design, which had already cost it more than $6 million, including initial pipe-digging, after the lowest bid came in almost $10 million over the officially approved $38.6 million.
Critics portrayed the incident as a case of the cabinet using an intentionally inaccurate figure to rationalize turning away local bids because they far exceeded a stated budget that was, in fact, virtually unattainable.
The Whitehorse-based EllisDon Corp. and Ketza Construction had put in the bid for $47.7 million.
Theirs was shunted aside in favour of one based on a school template crafted by an Alberta firm, an option freighted with further re-design costs like adding a cafeteria.
“We keep on hearing from the minister that this project is on time and on budget, and that is absolutely not true,” Silver said.
The 2014-15 capital budget puts the “building and facility development” cost of the F.H. Collins project at $51 million — not including the $3.3 million tech wing upgrade.
“The government knew that the tech and trades wing had to be upgraded, because the heat for the building comes from the existing F.H. Collins building, which will be torn down,” Silver said Wednesday in the legislature.
“When you take away a building’s heating source, replacing it is part of the cost of finishing a project.”
The single most expensive feature of the numerous retrofits is an onsite 800-kilowatt heating plant with propane-fired boilers, estimated at about $275,000.
That amount soars to nearly $550,000 when replacement of propane tanks and unit heaters as well as a new heating and ventilation control system are figured in.
“The trade wing is separate,” Highways and Public Works Minister Wade Istchenko told the house Wednesday.
“We are just compiling the numbers from working with the key stakeholders so we can move forward on doing upgrades to that.
“Regarding F.H. Collins, things are coming along great ... It’s an affordable design for a modern facility that meets LEED silver standard and our efficiency standards,” Istchenko added.
“Construction is well underway. I said that it is on track for a fall completion in 2015 — lots of Yukoners working.”
The request for proposals will close Jan. 14, 2015.