Public Works Yard Renovations Explained
Prince George, B.C. – City Council last month elected to go the Alternate Approval route in seeking authority from taxpayers to borrow money for five projects contained within the Capital Plan.
One of the authorizations sought is for the borrowing of $1,450,000 for the Public Works Yard Development project. That project, as detailed by City staff, is to integrate the Parks Division into the main Engineering and Public Works building (which for clarification we will refer to as the “old” building) where Roads, Fleet, Engineering and Civic Facilities are located. It also includes enlarging the change room/washroom facilities to include Parks outside works and create office space for Parks administrative staff.
You may recall that in 2011 the City wanted to borrow $3 million to construct a new office building at the 18th Avenue yard and move the Utilities group, including Parks along with Shops and Vehicles which were then at the 4th Avenue yard to 18th, completing the consolidation of the Transportation and Utilities divisions.
The original plan in 2011 was to borrow up to $3 million and construct a 13,240 square-foot “new” building. However, the members of the Council at that time decided to scale things back and sought, and received, approval to borrow $2 million for a 10,000-square-foot building.
Administrative staff moved from 4th Avenue into the building in mid-January, 2013 with the remainder of the employees following in stages in February that year.
Council is now seeking to borrow three-quarters of the cost of that new building to make further changes in the 18th Avenue yard. Mayor Lyn Hall says “currently the Parks and Solid Waste Division are working out of portable trailers that are on the northeast corner of the Public Works yard and those trailers are quite old, roughly fifteen to twenty years old.”
“So what they’re going to do is move those folks into the existing main Public Works (old) building on 18th and they’re going to expand the change rooms, washroom facilities and create office space for the Parks and Solid Waste folks.”
Hall says “it’s quite an expenditure and anytime you’re taking a look at trying to revamp buildings, add to them and re-structure, you’re into it for fairly large dollars.”
Asked if Parks and Solid Waste wasn’t supposed to have been included in the 2013 move Mayor Hall says “Parks and Solid Waste stayed in those trailers and didn’t make the move. There were other departments that moved into the new facility and they didn’t so that’s why the (borrowing) request now.”
The mayor was asked whether taxpayers are having to pay now for the previous decision to cut back on the original plan for the “new” building at 18th Avenue. “Well I don’t think of necessarily a decision that was changed back then. We are asking taxpayers to inform us and give us their position on whether or not we move forward with the $1.4 million.”
“Originally the thought of this project was around $3 million in 2013 but came in well under that. So we understand that we have a health and safety issue in those portables with those folks and we need to get them moved. And if we can do it within that budget and get them into existing facilities with what will turn out to be some fairly significant renovations then we’ll see what the public has to say about that.”
Regarding the number of employees who would be affected if the project goes ahead Hall says “the number of Parks employees fluctuates throughout the year but probably to a maximum of about 50 during the summer.” He says that takes in the period from about mid-April to the end of September with perhaps about half of those workers being students.
The borrowing of the $1,450,000 would result in annual debt servicing costs of $97,463 to the General Fund over 20 years, with an interest rate of 3.00% and a sinking fund rate of 3.00%.
The $2 million covering the 2011 project also had a 20-year term.