Dysart visitor centre $100,000 over budget

·2 min read

Head Lake Park is projected to go $100,000 over budget due in part to rising construction material costs.

Staff reported Dec. 11 that construction costs have gone up to about $550,000. Coun. John Smith said the deficit figure includes $60,000 for materials due to pandemic-related price increases and $26,000 for an HVAC system not originally accounted for.

Deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy, who heads the committee overseeing the project, reported Nov. 24 that overruns could be $60,000. He added he would like to apply COVID recovery funding to the budget given the pandemic’s impact on costs, which staff said they would investigate.

“The numbers showing in the budget today are quite shocking to me, honestly,” Kennedy said. “The ball lands squarely at my feet.”

The Rotary Club of Haliburton originally proposed the centre and is providing $75,000, while the federal government is granting $375,000. CAO Tamara Wilbee said the $100,000 figure is not necessarily final and there are still invoices coming in. She said the pandemic spike on material costs could not be anticipated. She later added the building is also 20 per cent larger than originally planned.

Treasurer Barbara Swannell said they could explore additional grant funding to cover the expense and the taxpayer impact should not exceed $60,000.

Smith criticized the build and asked how the process could be changed to avoid something such as this in the future. He further asked about councillors getting further input on projects such as this.

“It’s more than 20 per cent over budget. That ought to be a concern because taxpayers are picking up the tab,” Smith said. “What lessons do we learn from this experience? Because it’s hard to say it’s been well-executed.”

Mayor Andrea Roberts defended the building and said the rising cost of materials is impacting all types of construction.

“It’s something we can be proud of,” Roberts said of the welcome centre. “If overall it costs the municipality, the taxpayers, the (2021 tax) levy, $60,000 or even a little bit more, that’s very good value for what we’re getting, and I think we have to be a little more positive.”

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander