Three years after the community agreed to borrow up to $3 million for a new fire hall and emergency operations centre, the project has taken a giant step forward.
In a closed meeting last week, Bowen Island Municipal Council approved hiring Liberty Contract Management for design-build services of the new fire hall based on Liberty’s $3.6 million proposal.
BIM initially tendered the project in 2019 but bids came in the $8 to $9 million range said BIM CAO Liam Edwards. That was untenable for the municipality, so it went back to the drawing board. Liberty came forward with a modified design and project.
“The actual look and feel of the facility is not all that much different [from the previous proposal],” said Edwards. “But it’s a much simpler facility…no bells and whistles type facility.”
“From a from an aesthetic point of view…it looks quite similar,” he said. “But then the inside, it’s really stripped down to the bare minimum.”
The new design has minimized pavement outside and stripped out the previously proposed ability to add a second floor. “Basically simplified the design, all while maximizing the performance of that facility,” said Edwards.
The facility is still a “post-disaster building,” designed to continue functioning after a disaster.
The 2017 referendum material estimated the annual taxpayer burden at $68 for the average property owner.
The original project had a budget of $3 million. The $3.6 million iteration is to be funded through the borrowing approved in the referendum (up to $3 million), the Fire Building Replacement Reserve Fund and the General Capital Renewal and Replacement Reserve Fund.
Council approved spending a further $125,000 on project exclusions, according to BIM’s council highlights newsletter. It also instructed staff to apply for a building permit for the fire hall and to prioritize the application.
BIM’s notice of intent to award the project closes Oct. 26, at which point the two parties can sign the contract and move onto finalizing preparations.
“I’ve got an on-site meeting this Friday with the team to make sure that we’re going to be doing the best we can to manage the construction on that site,” said Edwards.
The most contentious part of the project has long been its location on Lot 3 of the Community Lands, a rare flat stretch of land in the Cove, which many see as ideal for affordable housing. Lot 3 is still the chosen site of the new building.
The BIM website puts building occupancy as Fall 2021.