Municipal garage price skyrockets

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By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Skyrocketing inflation has caused the cost of a building a new public works garage in Chatham to more than double.

At its Feb. 6, meeting Chatham-Kent council approved a motion to construct the new building on Creek Road at a cost of $6.1 million.

The amount is more than twice the original estimate of $2.7 million.

Several councillors took issue with the spending hike.

“Why the big pay increase now?” Chatham Coun. Amy Finn asked.

Ryan Brown, Chatham-Kent’s director of public works, blamed the increase on rampant inflation and the fact that some of the services, such as the installation of new hydro meter, were not factored in.

“The biggest driver of the cost increase, compared to the original estimates, is the ongoing inflation,” Brown told council.

East Kent Coun. Steve Pinsonneault questioned why the $450,000 architectural design fee was so high, but Brown said that an estimated 10 per cent of a project is the standard cost.

Council originally approved the project in 2020, but the pandemic and problems hooking into services delayed the construction.

East Kent Coun. John Wright expressed concern over the high cost and the delay.

“I can’t understand why this has taken so long and why it’s more than doubled in price,” Wright said.

Brown said the pandemic and unforeseen issues contributed to the slowdown.

“We did have to reroute and plan for new gas lines,” Brown said.

Up to $2.6 million will be transferred from the asset management plan for bridges, with the funds to be replaced in the 2024 capital budget with no impact on future bridge projects.

A portion of the new garage was financed through the sale of municipal property at 540 Park Ave. East to Onbelay Automotive for $750,000.

Council also learned that the public works employees that used the garage that was sold have had to do some of their work and store equipment out of doors since the sale.

The tender from Windsor-Essex based Barrineti Construction Ltd. was the lowest of nine received by the municipality.

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