City council approved a budget increase for a makeover of Edmonton’s iconic fountain in the plaza outside of city hall on Wednesday.
Councillors said the reason for the increase is that all of the bids for the project that came in were several million dollars higher than expected.
Details are scarce because councillors were briefed in private during the final council meeting before the summer break. However, city management confirmed to reporters the increase is because of construction costs.
“ fluctuation in the market in terms of materials or products,” said Adam Laughlin, the city’s deputy manager for infrastructure. “It’s a bidding process, so we can’t disclose much.”
He said the contractors who bid were concerned about the timeline for the project.
“Certainly the schedule was a concern we saw from the contractors,” Laughlin said. “They’ve committed to that schedule. If we approve this tender based on the budget adjustment, then we can move forward.”
Laughlin said the new fountain and rink are due to open in the summer of 2019, “but there may be phases that open early or later depending on how that schedule unfolds.”
The original construction schedule was estimated at 13 months.
Watch below: In January 2018, Quinn Ohler filed this report about the wading pool at Edmonton’s city hall and why it can’t remain as it is.
Mayor Don Iveson said council ruled out engaging in a second round of tendering in the hope of getting a better price. He told reporters it would just delay the process.
“In this case, council decided to proceed and try to get the work done and try to get the square back open for business, recognizing that there’s a little bit higher cost.”
Anticipating possible criticism about the city’s recent construction track record, the mayor was quick to point out that the vast majority of projects come in on time and on-budget.
“Ninety-eight per cent of the city’s projects are on- or under-budget. So this would be an exception to that,” he said.
“This is one that’s over budget. This would move us from 98 probably to 97 per cent. The city has been very good at estimating costs.
“In this case, the bids all came in a few million bucks higher than we were hoping on this project. But yeah, it’s market conditions. We’re still taking the lowest bid of all of the ones that were submitted.”
The original budget was $13 million to resurface the fountain pool and the deck surrounding it in the plaza of city hall. The water depth will be reduced to ankle-high instead of what has been knee-deep since it opened.
The changes were mandated by Alberta Health Services which had concerns about water flow.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.