Higher construction costs force Vaudreuil-Dorion to delay start of new municipal hub
By John Jantak
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
The City of Vaudreuil-Dorion postponed plans to proceed with its new municipal hub that will feature a new city hall and library, replacing the Municipal Library on Rue Jeannotte (pictured) for at least six months to one year due to higher costs for labour and construction materials.
Soaring construction costs and a labour shortage in the construction industry are among several factors that prompted Vaudreuil-Dorion council to adopt a resolution at its meeting on June 21 to postpone moving forward with its project to build a municipal hub that would include a brand new city hall, library, and exterior public square in the first phase of the project.
The postponement comes after council decided to reject the only bid it received for the project from the Geyser Group in the amount of $49.9 million before taxes, more than a third higher than the city’s original estimated construction cost for the project.
The city published a public call for tenders on the Quebec government’s electronic tendering system in March and the sole bid was rejected after it was opened and reviewed on May 28.
Unexpected price increase
The city cited current market conditions characterized by volatile material prices, several projects being launched simultaneously, and a labour shortage as creating upward pressure on prices.
The city's loan by-law for this project initially called for a construction cost of $32 million before taxes.
In the past few weeks before the tender was opened, estimates were produced by professionals to take into account the rapid rise in construction prices indicating the current construction cost had risen to around $40 million before taxes.
“We’re talking about a price difference of $17 million from our estimate last September,” said Mayor Guy Pilon. “Like many other organizations, we have decided not to embark on the project in such a volatile market. Shortly before the bidding opened, our professionals had re-estimated the cost of materials in the past few months, but we weren’t expecting such a large increase.”
“The municipal hub is a wonderful project in which we continue to believe in and we will work to assess all the possible avenues to make it happen, but always with respect to public funds,” said Pilon. A subsidy of over $4.8 million had already been announced by the federal and provincial governments for the construction of the new library.
“I would like to thank all the municipal employees involved in this project as well as all our professionals who have had to put their work on hiatus. We will not be able to inaugurate the municipal hub in 2022, but this is only a postponement,” Pilon added.
‘Hopefully the price will be better’
The city will evaluate the situation and decide how to proceed within the next few months up to one year. “I feel very comfortable. We had no choice. When you go over the borrowing by-law you have to resubmit a tender and hopefully the price will be better even if we have to cut something,” said Pilon.
The mayor suggested one way to try to offset the rapid increase in construction would be for other towns to consider postponing their new municipal infrastructure projects. “It will decrease the pressure regarding higher construction costs. It’s a very cyclical situation and the cost factor should decline,” Pilon said.
In the meantime, the city still has a lease that will allow it to continue renting its premises on the second floor of the plaza on Rue Dutrisac for the next three years. “I’m sure they will be happy if we happen to extend the lease for another six months or one year,” said Pilon. “I don’t think there will be a problem.”