Police station expansion’s price tag tops $56M

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Another $6 million has been added to the cost of the planned renovation and expansion of the Brantford police’s Elgin Street headquarters, bringing the total estimated budget to $56.7 million.

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At a recent meeting, members of the police station task force received a report from city staff detailing the project status. The report detailed “impacts from current inflation and supply issues that will impact the original cost estimate,” said a news release issued by the city.

About $5.6 million of the additional costs are attributed to current construction and inflation rates, said the release, noting that the cost for the reconstruction will be “fully funded by development charges, not ratepayers.”

“No matter what capital project and what you thought it was going to cost, now it’s much more expensive to build,” said Mayor Kevin Davis.

This is the second big budget increase for the police station project. In September, city council approved adding a third floor and making it a “net zero” building. Those changes added about $10.7 million to the cost.

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The police headquarters, a city-owned building, will be expanded on land purchased from its neighbour, Enbridge Gas. About 38,500 square feet would be added to the building with a three-storey addition.

The goal is to construct a facility that will meet the needs of the police service and the community for the next 25 to 30 years.

The mayor said the “real decision making” will be done by councillors when they discuss the city’s capital budget in January.

He said they will be wrestling with how to deal with increased costs for all capital projects, including scaling them back, delaying them, borrowing money or increasing property taxes.

“There will be some very difficult decisions to be made …,” said Davis.

The city’s official plan estimates Brantford’s population will nearly double over the next few decades. The current police headquarters, built in 1991 and expanded in 2006, has run out of room as the service continues to grow.

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Since the original concept plan for the police building, city council declared a climate emergency and directed that a net-zero carbon building design be used in the construction of all future municipal  facilities.

Proposed features of the police building include: triple paned windows; a highly-efficient HVAC system to reduce energy consumption; ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption; LED lighting with photocells, which operate based on natural lighting levels; and the installation of solar panels on the roof.

At the police services task force meeting, Davis asked if there was “any consideration given to what can be eliminated from the project to bring the cost down to something more in line with what council and the public expect it to be.”

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Christina Speers, Brantford’s capital project manager, said there are continuous efforts to look for cost savings in the building’s design.

Brantford Police Chief Rob Davis said “a very conscious and deliberate decision” was made to eliminate an indoor firing range from the design, which would have cost more than $5 million.

There are tentative plans to move the police administrative and investigation units to the city’s tourism building on Wayne Gretzky Parkway during the construction.

Plans call for tenders on the project to be called in June, with construction to be completed in late 2025.

When asked by police services board chair Mark Littell whether a lot of bidding on the project is expected, John Pepper of RPL Architects, which specializes in police and emergency service facilities, said he “thinks it’s a big enough project to attract a lot of interest from some larger and mid-sized contracting companies.”

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