Hefty price tag for upgrades to Wingham patrol yard

HURON COUNTY – Upgrades for the public works department patrol yard on London Road in Wingham are needed. And the price tag is a hefty one that will likely go up with the current cost for construction materials and labour, according to Huron County Engineer Steve Lund.

The current total estimated cost for the project is $13.8 million.

Lund presented a report to Huron County council on Dec. 21 outlining the technical overview, a preliminary budget breaking the project into phases, and several cost savings ideas for council’s consideration.

The priorities and objectives of the project include the replacement of existing salt storage domes that have reached the end of their useful life with a new storage facility; replacing the existing operations building with an expanded new facility, sized to accommodate modern equipment with additional space for the bridge crew, sign shop, and office area.

More site improvements include the replacement of the well and septic system on site, a new underground fuel depot, a new backup generator, and upgraded electrical service.

“In addition, we’ll be looking at building a stormwater management facility first, so we can be good stewards of our land, take care of any increased runoff, and then some general milling and grading. We’ve got a storm sewer system we’re looking at replacing to serve just to the east of the current storage area,” said Lund.

“We’re starting to narrow down the costs based on our proposed design, and essentially what we’re looking at for the different types of structures…The operations shop area is $3.8 million, and the sand and salt storage area is $6.2 [million] by the time you add your margins and adjustments, overheads, and contingencies.”

Added Lund, “The contingencies will continue to decrease as we hone in and narrow in on our design. Then also we have to add an escalation factor; by the time we actually go to tender, the cost may go up. We have seen them generally going up 30 per cent and that’s basically all areas of construction, whether it’s a facility or we’re putting pipes in the ground, building, the road costs have just risen by 30 per cent.”

Councillors discussed the options available for the new sand and salt storage buildings, debating the material to use, the cost-effectiveness of wood versus steel supports, and ultimately which design would be the best use of funds.

Warden Glen McNeil commented about the fuel tanks, saying, “Steve brought up a comment today that we could cut a few corners that cost, like putting the storage tanks above ground… it really resonated with me that if there was a climate change disaster, like a tornado – and we know, there will be more frequent weather events like this – that we need dependable fuel to run our equipment, and it may be frequented by other suppliers.”

McNeil thanked Lund for his work on such a big dollar project, saying, “we appreciate the fulsome report for our knowledge to provide the leadership on this.”

Council approved the motion to accept the presented information and to include the project’s budget and business plan in the 2023 budget for further consideration.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times