Summerland struggles with police station costs

Plans for a new RCMP station in Summerland could undergo revisions as the district tries to keep the project within its $4.5 million budget.

Plans for a new RCMP station in Summerland could undergo revisions as the district tries to keep the project within its $4.5 million budget.

Recent figures show the project as currently designed would exceed its budget by $300,000. The cost overrun is “significant, but not outrageous,” said Ken Ostraat, director of finance, who blamed a number of factors including rising construction costs and tendering delays related to the referendum that approved the facility by a substantial margin in fall 2010.

While Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino called cost overruns for projects of this kind “inevitable” and “par for the course,” she re-affirmed earlier promises the district remains committed to keep the project within budgetary and time limits.

The committee tasked with overseeing the project met with representatives from Unitech, the company overseeing the construction, to come up with recommendations designed to trim costs. Council will receive recommendations at its next meeting.

“The clock is ticking,” said Coun. Ken Roberge, who called the cost overrun a “concern” that may require some difficult choices. But he also expressed confidence the district will keep costs in line.

Perrino said any measures would likely impact the appearance of the building. “If it doesn’t look like the Taj Mahal, that is fine,” she said. “It is the inside that matters.”

One design element that might disappear from the station is a rammed earth feature, said to be critical to the esthetics of the building. Cutting the feature would generate about $100,000 in savings, but diminish the building’s appeal.

News of the cost overrun has caused some consternation if not confusion among members of council and re-energized its critics such as Reinhold Prochnau, who see it as evidence that the project has been a “debacle” from the start. The district should have opted for a smaller building that could have been expanded later, he said. He also challenged suggestions the current situation could have been avoided if the district did not have to hold a referendum. “That is a red herring,” he said.

Roberge denied the facility is too large. “It is built for today and tomorrow,” he said.