Station House’s front.

Council gives further direction on Station House project

Council members had more discussion of the Station House at the April 19 meeting.

Council charted further steps forward on April 19 at a committee of the whole meeting.

Council discussed cost cutting, renovations versus a new building and hosting a public meeting.

Operations director Kevin Dicken started the discussion, saying that architect Geoff Lawlor has asked the cost consultant to “delete all costs above minimum possible baseline.”

“Essentially, look for ways to reduce cost on the project,” said Dicken. “And hopefully, we will be able to reduce [the cost to a] more realistic number for our affordability.”

If the phased approach’s goal is to prioritize occupancy, Dicken said that would require fire ratings to be in place, which means the basement must be done. Renovations to the basement include gypsum wall boards, which means electrical and HVAC systems must be installed.

“That’s the unfortunate thing,” said Dicken.

Mayor Wilfried Vicktor wanted to have the building inspector involved in the process to reduce costs, “because architects, as a rule, tend to overdo it a little bit.”

Council members also debated renovating or rebuilding. Coun. Donna Kropp said she was interested in knowing the costs of both scenarios.

“This is a one-time deal, we don’t get to do this again,” said Kropp.

Kropp said a new building would provide better access and parking. Kropp said this juncture also allows council to consider the how they can mitigate any problems if highway alignments change in the future. The Trans-Canada Highway sits next to the Station House property.

Coun. Gerry Dyble agreed, saying that she will make a decision on which route she wants after costs of both come back.

Coun. Heather Stewin suggested that a new building would open the opportunity for a smaller building.

“Is 7,500-square-feet really necessary for a visitor centre? Could be downsized and made more affordable,” asked Stewin.

Dicken told Kropp that Lawlor said, in a previous meeting, that a new building would cost 20 per cent more than renovations. Kropp said that was “in his opinion,” and that Lawlor gives “high-end costs.”

Coun. Bob Erickson suggested again that the District of Hope should put out a request for proposals (RFP) for an exact duplicate of the Station House. Erickson said a contractor can give a per-square-foot price based on quality demands which would provide a close ballpark estimate.

Mayor Wilfried Vicktor suggested instead that Dicken gets an industry-standard quote for costs per-square-foot without going to an RFP, which would cause them to wait three months.

Coun. Scott Medlock reiterated that he is not in favour of a new building, and wants to continue on renovating Station House in a phased approach.

Hosting another public meeting was also discussed. Chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky said that staff would get the information requested by council members, then host a public meeting. Vicktor said the District should specially reach out to people involved in the initial phase of Station House’s development.