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Civic Centre revitalization project takes step back after being stalled by escalating costs

Escalating costs and scope have dampened the enthusiasm and momentum of the Civic Centre project causing the City to head back to the drawing board for solutions.

City manager Kevin Cormack said the City is still “working through that one” as it tries to match the needs of the heritage facility with the dollars to realize it.

“We’ve seen significant price and scope escalation in that project … so we have put it back to consultants to look at how we deliver that project in a manner that is more in line with our budgets,” he said in a City council meeting on Sept. 12.

He pointed to the structure’s aging roof and the snow load it will undergo once it is insulated, putting additional pressure on it and raising concerns on how it will perform.

“So it is back with the consultants looking at every out-of-the-box solution of how can we deal with it, specifically, that roof and just cost escalation,” he said. “So that’s a really, really challenging project and we are working hard with people to find solutions to a very challenging building.”

He estimated there was up to 50 per cent construction cost escalation since 2021. The Civic Centre accounts for 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions from Nelson municipal facilities.

In March the City announced Colliers Project Leaders as the drivers of the Civic Centre Revitalization Project to update, renovate and renew the 89-year-old building.

After landing the prime consultant — Cover Architecture — Colliers will be kicked off the design process with a “fairly detailed stakeholder engagement.”

At the time Colliers said it was still looking for additional grants even though budgets had been approved for the project.

Three for one

There are three different scopes with the project: low carbon and heritage renewal; the Civic Theatre renovation; and accessibility upgrades.

The project will be looking at roof components, the insulation, the windows, said Kim Turner, Colliers project lead, but it will also be looking at building up resiliency by replacing the cooling system, the heating system and installing an HVAC system.

“We want to ensure that all of the different individuals, businesses, that use that facility are comfortable year round,” she said, “and they are not comfortable at the expense of the environment.”

The Civic could also potentially be a place to be used in case of an emergency, said Turner.

The Civic Theatre project has been driven by a very passionate group, she continued, with the Nelson Civic Theatre Society spearheading the initiative for quite a few years.

“They have a couple of different goals and one them is obviously to increase the capacity, increase the availability of that space, turning it from a one-theatre to a three-theatre space,” said Turner, “and really looking at how they can improve the universal accessibility of that space.”

The idea is to make it a safe space where the local art and theatre community, and the local movie industry, can be promoted, said Turner.

Right now only five per cent of that building is accessible, she said.

“And that needs to be adjusted so we can provide the opportunity for everyone to use the theatre, the gymnasium and the dance studio,” Turner explained. “So we have combined all those three scopes into one project.”

Source: The Nelson Daily, March 2023

Stepping up

The building’s drawings need to be refined so that the contractors have something they can build against, said Turner.

Thirty per cent of that detail is what Colliers wanted before it engaged a construction manager.

“So we don’t want to progress that design too far down the line because we want that construction manager to come in, provide their input, especially when it comes to cost efficiencies, what material is actually available,” Turner pointed out.

The construction manager is going to be the one to help guide the project by using the right material for the right use, she added.

“As soon we get that concept design we will go ahead and issue some documents to the market to try and engage a construction manager. The big focus of that is going to be finding the right partner, similar to what we did with the prime consultant.”

Source: The Nelson Daily, March 2023

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily