The re-development Saanich’s parks and public works yard faces rising costs. Staff has asked Saanich council to approve more than $50,000 for additional environmental assessments. (Black Press File)

Re-development of Saanich’s public works yard faces rising costs, divides council

SNC Lavalin could end up earning more than $200,000 for environmental site surveys

The environmental assessment of Saanich’s parks and public works yard faces rising costs.

A report due before Saanich council Monday asks councillors to approve another $50,000 dollars towards an on-going contract with SNC Lavalin, bringing its total contract with the compnay to $216,550 (minus GST) to continue with environmental site studies.

Montreal-based SNC Lavalin is one of the world’s largest construction and consulting companies in multiple areas including municipal infrastructure, facilities, operations, and maintenance.

Harley Machielse, Saanich’s director of engineering, said the requested funding will allow the company to finalize its analysis of the site. The request appears before council because the requested change would increase the contract past the staff threshold of $200,000-plus, he said.

Saanich first hired SNC Lavalin in 2017 for soil surveys, with the company delivering extensive findings in the second quarter of 2018.

“Since that time, the District has further engaged SNC Lavalin to conduct additional monitoring and sampling analysis through a contract change order, bringing the [purchase] order up to the current value of $166,450 (excluding GST),” said Machielse.

RELATED: Costs loom as Saanich considers future of public works yard

The environmental state of the site is of critical importance to its future, as staff continue to develop a business case on re-development opportunities, after a 2017 report had identified the parks and public works yard as the highest priority for re-development.

The facility, according to that report, “warrants replacement” in noting that current conditions pose a risk to service delivery. Identified “ inadequate safety and operational deficiencies” include among others the absence of fire-suppressing sprinklers and buildings that meet current building and seismic codes.

RELATED: Future of Saanich’s parks and public works yard divides council

Broadly speaking, the municipality faces two choices: re-develop the current location at 1040 McKenzie Avenue, or move operations to an alternative location.

Saanich recently hired private real estate company Colliers International to help the municipality make that choice a staff review of “all public and private lands with relevant criteria” over the course of 10 months had come up inconclusive.

The issue has divided council. Four councillors — Couns. Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff, Nathalie Chambers and Rebecca Mersereau — opposed hiring the company, as they spoke in favour of re-developing the current site. The majority of council, however, prevailed, with Mayor Fred Haynes arguing that the re-development of the facility represents a once-in-a-century decision that requires a review of all options.

The site has also drawn the attention of the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association. The group proposing to build a velodrome in Saanich has had internal discussions about building the proposed facility at that location.


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