City Council will grapple Monday with the prospect of renovations to the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Center going 33% over budget.

Don Elliott, the city’s director of engineering, is asking for the project’s budget to be increased to $2.7 million, from the original allocation of $1.8 million.

Elliott will also request that $83,350 be added to the $210,650 engineering budget for the project.

And, he warns that even more money may be needed to complete the job, which includes the civic center’s exterior entrance as well as lobby modifications and inadequate fire protection between floors.

The following is from a report prepared by Elliott for Monday’s city council meeting:

At the December 14, 2020 meeting, council was advised of three required upgrades to the Civic Center.

The first was the requirement to reconfigure the concourse to Level 2 to address pandemic-related access issues, physical distancing and building security. Restrictions are required to access meeting rooms and staff work areas. The proposed works will provide facilities for visitor interactions to conduct transactions in the lobby and will provide secure access points with employee identification means for security and contact tracing.

The second item relates to the exterior entrance to Level 3. The 2020 building condition assessment as part of asset management identified the need to replace the waterproofing of the underground garage, which will involve the excavation of the front entrance area, completion of required structural repairs, waterproofing of the underside of the roof and top quality backfill. This is the most appropriate time to replace the deficient access ramp and rebuild it to current standards. In addition, since the exterior stairs have exceeded their useful life and require major repairs each spring, they should be replaced now. All of these works were identified in the recent building condition assessment.

The need for the third component was discovered during the window and cladding project. There is insufficient fire protection on the steel framing members between floors at the perimeter of the building. Several remedies were evaluated and the preferred option was to install a full sprinkler system at all levels

At the December 14, 2020 meeting, the Board authorized the project to apply for the COVID Resilience funding stream under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

The request for funding has been accepted and the funds are to be applied to the work of the exterior entrance. Work must be completed by December 2023 to be eligible for funding. The design of all these improvements was entrusted to an engineering and architecture team during the meeting of March 8, 2021.

The project schedule has been delayed for a number of reasons. The design and construction industry has been extremely busy over the past two years. No proposals were received in response to the first RFP.

A second RFP was issued and a team of engineers and architects provided a proposal. Additionally, the window and cladding contractor requires access from the main entrance to complete work on the atrium wall, so exterior work could not be completed in 2021.

The pandemic has generally had a negative effect on design and construction capacity across the industry.
In consultation with the design team, it was decided to tender the interior and exterior works separately.

Interior work was tendered for the lobby and sprinkler system, but received little interest. The staff therefore decided to bid separately for the sprinkler system. This RFP closed on March 9, 2022. There was only one bid and it was 150% over budget, so staff are not recommending award.

The work in the lobby has been reviewed by Public Works and it has been decided that the work can be done by the company’s carpentry staff. It includes new flooring, painting, construction of four modular kiosks of varying sizes, and other amenities such as workstations and payment facilities for conducting visitor transactions in the lobby. Staff are considering other options for the provision of the sprinkler system.

The design continues for the exterior works. The intent is to ensure that all visitors will have access to the Civic Center’s main entrance. During preliminary design, it was determined that reconstruction of the access ramp would not be feasible. The level difference is such that the ramp, if built to current code, will be prohibitively long and expensive and unlikely to be used by anyone.

The proposed solution is the construction of an exterior elevator to allow access between levels. The elevator will provide citizens of all physical abilities with access to the main entrance.

The initial pre-design budget is insufficient to complete the works, especially the exterior part, due to optimistic cost estimates in the 2020 building condition assessments and the elevator will cost more than the ramp.

The consulting team provided a pre-design estimate of over $4 million, but staff worked with the consultant to narrow the scope of several components. The revised budget of $2,728,000 recommended below will complete the majority of what is needed, but additional work may be required in the future to the apron/assembly space in front of the civic center.

The original project budget approved in previous capital budgets was $1,823,000. The revised budget is recommended at $2,727,423 and the additional funds can be covered by the allocation of $475,000 from the Asset Management Reserve approved in the 2022 Budget and the approved ICIP Covid Resilience funding of $429,423 .

The original engineering fee was $210,650. Additional fees to a revised fee limit of $294,000 are required primarily for elevator design. This is included in the budget above and is recommended for approval.

Monday’s city council meeting will be streamed live on SooToday from 4:30 p.m.