CORNER BROOK The process by which Corner Brook went about securing a contractor for its new water treatment plant may have reset the way other municipal governments, and even how the province, goes about awarding tenders for major projects.
On Friday morning, the City of Corner Brook announced that the contract it has signed with Pomerleau Inc. for the design and construction of the plant portion of the new water treatment system is expected to get the project back on track with what city council has budgeted for it.
In 2007, the city was joined by provincial and federal government representatives in an announcement that they would each cough up $12 million to pay for the $36-million price tag on the new plant and accompanying water main distribution system. The City of Corner Brook would be responsible for any cost overruns beyond the $36 million.
The plant portion alone was forecasted to cost about $27 million.
In 2009, citing escalating costs, city council budgeted $43.5 million for the project, including the $24 million from provincial and federal coffers.
When tenders were issued in 2010, bidders estimated the cost of the plant alone would be $41 million and the overall project costs shot up to more than $60 million.
To rein in that cost, the city sought approval from the provincial government to take a different approach than the traditional interpretation of the Public Tendering Act and to use a design-build delivery method, rather than the design-bid-build process.
The cost of the design and construction contract awarded to Pomerleau Friday is nearly $25 million, plus HST.
Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley said the overall project should now still come in around the $43 million the city has budgeted, with the city being on the hook for nearly $20 million.
An optimized design of the plant, added Greeley, should also mean reduced operating costs once the plant is up and running.
“This has been a learning process for all involved,” said the mayor. “It would be fair to say the provincial government has learned as much from this as we have and it is opening new doors for the provincial government as they move forward with major projects as well.”
Others have followed suit
Finance Minister Tom Marshall said the city’s water treatment plant was the first design-build project he had seen in the province, but that others have followed suit since Corner Brook’s lead. In fact, he said reports submitted by communities on projects have referred to it as “the City of Corner Brook process” when indicating they are pursuing the same concept of project delivery.
“These (design-build) projects provide quicker construction and they leverage innovation from the construction sector,” said Marshall.
Quebec-based Pomerleau, which has built Corner Brook’s new city hall, its long-term care centre and is currently constructing new residences at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, expects to begin building the plant in the next few weeks.
The first treated water from the system is expected to flow from taps throughout the city in March 2015.
“We are very excited to continue our ongoing relationship with the City of Corner Brook,” said Patrick Stiles, Pomerleau’s regional manager in Atlantic Canada.
Corner Brook’s water system will also serve the neighbouring towns of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. Corner Brook has reached a 15-year agreement with Massey Drive to help pay for the new system and is working on a deal with Mount Moriah.
The deal with Massey Drive involves the town paying annual fees, as opposed to a certain proportion of the project cost.
“This is a big day for the town of Massey Drive as well as for the City of Corner Brook,” said Rodger Hunt, Massey Drive’s town manager who attended Friday’s announcement with Deputy Mayor Gord Halfyard. “We’ve been watching this closely.”