Prince Albert city council is set to vote on an $18-million tender to replace the city’s aging raw water pump house.
That’s well above the original assessment from 2018, which pegged the cost at $4.54-million. It’s also almost double a revised estimate brought before council in 2019, which anticipated the cost would be around $10-million.
Inflation, American tariffs and the declining value of the Canadian dollar are the primary reasons for the price increase, according to a report from Capital Projects Manager Nykol Miller. The complexity of the design is also a factor. Construction crews will have to dig four stories deep (about 15.9 meters) without damaging the nearby river bed.
“Major components of equipment are sourced from the United States,” Miller wrote. “The value of the Canadian dollar has dropped during the pandemic and as such, has resulted in higher pricing for the project.”
She added that the city was likely to get a competitive bid because there were so few major infrastructure projects on the market. That may change if the project gets pushed back to 2021.
City administrators have already met with the engineering firm that designed the pump house plans in hopes of finding cost savings. The price could drop by around $857,150 if council approves those changes.
City administration has proposed using $1.2-million from an existing loan, and $4.8-million in Gas Tax funding to pay for the project. The rest will come from a $12.8-million long-term loan.
Administration recommends awarding the tender to Edmonton-based PCL Construction. The company has offices in 13 Canadian cities, including Saskatoon and Regina. They were one of five companies to bid on the contract. None of the five companies put in a bid for less than $18-million.
The oldest parts of Prince Albert’s raw water pump house date back to the 1920s. It received major upgrades in 1978, 1980, 1983, 2010 and 2013. However, conditions have deteriorated over the last three years.
In 2017, city employees had to make $39,247 worth of emergency repairs. That increased to $85,604 in 2018, and again in 2019 to $96,090. Workers have made $86,000 in emergency repairs through the first eight months of 2020.
Those repairs include emergency maintenance in May on a blocked intake valve that required dive teams to unclog, as well as a project in June to keep asbestos insulation from spilling through a crack in the wall.
“If the pump house is not replaced, these repair costs will increase dramatically to maintain the failing infrastructure,” Miller wrote.
“Upgrading the existing facility is not possible. The emergency repairs that have occurred over the past three years have been a clear indicator the existing facility is near failure.”
The pump house tender is one of 14 reports from administration and city committees on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting. There are also six motions from city councillors. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. at City Hall.