Facility Assessments Hit Half Way Mark And Costs Are Climbing
Prince George, B.C. – When folks talk about infrastructure, they often think about what’s below the ground, but the City of Prince George has plenty of facilities and buildings that are considered infrastructure and many are in need of repair.
The latest assessment of the City’s buildings indicates that for the 24 properties reviewed, the City will have to spend about $21.5 million dollars over the next decade to keep them in good shape. While that may be a surprise to some, the real shocker is that the assessments have only reached the half way mark as the City owns about 50 buildings, which have a combined square footage of 1.75 million square feet.
Councillor Brian Skakun is hopeful the message will get out to the public “The public has to know what’s happening here and the kind of bills that we’re facing.” He added the City needs to communicate the costs, and needs feedback from residents “They need to understand this is a significant amount of money that we’re going to face during budget times.” To that end, the head of Communications for the City, Rob Van Adrichem says some work has already been done, starting with the Citizen budget which called upon residents to offer suggestions on how dollars should be spent when it comes to capital reinvestment. Some information was also made available during the TalkTober neighbourhood sessions held last month. “This is a project that’s going to consume our communications for some time” said Van Adrichem ” I think 1.7 million square feet is a lot to explain.” He says there will need to be a lot of education “I would be willing to bet that most people would have significant lack of understanding of the range of buildings that the City owns.”
Councillor Frank Everitt says there is a lot of square footage out there, and while some of the assets are well known to residents “There are other projects which don’t get the recognition , or are not of the same caliber but are still widely used by a lot of residents in the City. It’s a big job, it’s a lot of money, but it’s things you can’t leave. Leaving them has got us to the stage where we have a huge bill.”
Mayor Lyn Hall says the other shoe has yet to drop “The fact that we’re only half way through ( facility assessment) tells us that there’s a big dollar waiting there for us at the end of the day.” Mayor Hall says when it comes to some of the buildings, it may boil down to “Looking at the condition assessment and deciding whether or not to invest in that particular building or what we’re going to do with it.”
“Most importantly we need to set a strategic plan in place about how we educate ourselves around these condition assessments not only financially but logistically as well” says Mayor Hall “What buildings do we need to key in on for the first phase of refurbishing and recovering some of these.”
It looks like $21.5 million is just an indication of what hasn’t been spent where it maybe should have been in the last quite a few years.
We could afford $60 million for the new police station, $15 million for Kin 1, half a million for the Cougars new video screen, $3 million for the City offices on Quinn, etc. etc. etc. Apparently money does grow on trees.
Actually your comment should have read “We COULDN’T afford $60 million for the new police station, $15 million for Kin 1, half a million for the Cougars new video screen, $3 million for the City offices on Quinn, etc. etc. etc.”
We couldn’t afford all of these things, but City Council thought that they knew best and they spent it anyways!
Would be helpful if they posted a list of the buildings so the public has some idea.. Maybe that’s too much work for Rob to do on his own
A list of the buildings can be found on the agenda and minutes from Wednesday’s meeting.
My question would be are they grading these buildings on a curve? Take the Connaught Youth center for example which was in the green category and received an 88 score. A person would think that all is well until looking at what is required to bring the building up to standard.
->Significant deterioration in parts of building envelope
and cracks visible in foundation wall.
->Structural columns have been displaced and are not
providing support for the floor above. This is a life
safety issue as the floor may collapse if overloaded.
->Much of the HVAC needs updating.
->Fire alarm system is not up to code.
->Electric power service to the building is well past its
To me the collapse of floor with potential serious injuries or loss of life should lower the score significantly from 88 and change color to red. Is the city actively monitoring to ensure the area in question is not overloaded? Can anything be done to shore up the structural columns? One does not have to be a structural engineer to know that foundations and structural columns are pretty important.
The part of the building with the major structural flaws should be closed off until such a time as these issues are addressed. If something were to happen the city is leaving itself open to major lawsuits when it can be shown that they were fully aware of the problem and did nothing to fix it.
Can spend 40 grand on welcome to downtown signs while ignoring something as serious as a potential building collapse. There is something wrong with this picture!
As long as basic building maintenance goes unfunded in the city’s capitol plans this problem will not go away. They are kicking 20 and 30 thousand projects down the road that may cost double or triple by the time they get around to it.
So maybe the city can start allowing the rezoning of areas, so people and businesses can move here? How on earth do you expect to get tax dollars when you have such ancient zoning and approval process?
Give us some examples of the ancient zoning regulations which prevent people and businesses from moving here.
How and why did the City end up as the owner of the Connaught Youth Centre. Did they buy this property from the School Board.??
The first thing they need to do is fire their real-estate mogul and shut down that department.
It is well known in town that the City does not do a stellar job in the maintenance of their buildings.
Certainly not all of the current deficiencies can be blamed on maintenance (or lack of) but I know for certain that some of it can be.
“Councillor Brian Skakun is hopeful the message will get out to the public “The public has to know what’s happening here and the kind of bills that we’re facing.”
The real question is why has City Hall not known this.
We, the people, have assumed far too long that Council and Administration are competent to do the job they are elected for and paid to do when they get hired on.
What has happened? When is Administration going to figure it all out and when will they Council get to know it.
Not only that, but how come Council was not competent enough to ask the right questions to get the answers they need to pass on to us?
Every year we get surprises. It started near the end of Kinsley’s term. Since then we have had Rogers, then Green, and now Hall. That is at least 10 years later and we still keep on getting more surprises. Why? Who is accountable for this fiasco of a City administration and governance group?
Even now, this article makes it sound as if spending $21.5 million over the next 10 years to keep those which have been dealt with will be the end of it. It won’t be. There is actually be a perpetual annual cost which will increase the base maintenance rate over that which we have been used to spending. In some cases that will also include replacement cost when a facility will no longer be viable to maintain, no matter how well it is maintained from wear and tear.
Can we please get someone on Council who knows something about such matters and can ask the right questions of the City Manager and her staff.
I just looked at the list of buildings and suggested REQUIRED capital investment.
Some are easy to understand such as replacing components using R-22 refrigerant.
Others require further details, such as those which deal with energy savings such as fluorescent light fixture replacement and window replacement.
We should see the return on investment calculation which include the cost of borrowing and then measured against the probability of keeping the building in the City facility inventory, such as studio 2880, for example which may move to another location within the next 5 to 10 years.
Any expensive upgrades to the exterior envelope, lighting, etc. should be measured against the risk of those upgrades being torn down by a bulldozer prior to the end of the payback period.
One of the graphs shows actual capital re-investment from 2006 to 2015 and future capital re-investment from 2016 to 2026. The past 10 years show capital investments averaging about $200,000/year while the next 10 year average is in the $2million range for a 10 fold increase.
That is negligence of the worst kind. We need an enquiry just to find out why that has been allowed to happen. People are up in arms about the Clark Government in BC when they accept the goings on at our own City Hall.
How can we be sure that this covers it all? What else is missing in our knowledge of how much money it takes to run this City properly?
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