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Councillors question ballooning costs

Replacing old fire training centre comes in at $750,000
September 20, 2016 5:17 P.M.
KFR training at fire centre built in 1998. (City of Kamloops)

A new $750,000 KFR training centre was approved Tuesday but only after several councillors questioned a grossly inflated price-tag.

The need to replace the existing “live” fire training centre off Bunker Road arose as a result of the purchase of a parcel of City land required by B.C. Hydro to upgrade its infrastructure in the city’s southwest.

David Duckworth, community safety director, said the original plan was to replace the existing concrete training centre, search centre and classrooms with the same structures on a different site. 

“We were looking at simply replacing like with like,” he said.

After working on design aspects, though, staff determined it would be more suitable to convert to a steel building — the new standard for fire training centres elsewhere since steel is safer for firefighters and more sustainable — as well as a permanent structure for the neighbouring classrooms. 

Steel training centres are easier to maintain and KFR can switch from burning wooden pallets to cleaner fuels, reducing harmful particulates and waste water, Duckworth said. They are more costly though and this one comes in at $575,000.

An extra $100,000 covers the cost of constructing a permanent classroom rather than using modulars, he said. The modular structures currently in use are too old to relocate and costs have ballooned for new ones. Another $75,000 was added for engineering and contingency costs.

In total, the project requires $750,000 from the City’s general reserve fund. The sum is to be repaid, with interest, from the KFR budget over five years. A recent administrative cut at KFR frees up the funds, Duckworth said.

“That’s a huge increase,” said Coun. Tina Lange, referring to the classroom and office facility, now 40 percent higher than originally estimated.

Cost of modular replacements was initially underestimated, said David Trawin, chief administrative officer.

“It’s only now that we’re confident this is the right way to go,” Duckworth added.

The new training centre will have the capability of providing a revenue stream as other fire departments take advantage of the facility, he noted.

That was supported by Fire Chief Dale McLean, who said the opportunity is worth exploring.

“There’s nothing in this region that has the advanced technology we’re seeking,” McLean said. “That is very high on the priority list of many departments.”

Mayor Peter Milobar said a multitude of City projects have come in under budget, so the higher cost needs to be seen in that perspective.

Coun. Marg Spina raised an additional issue — hazardous materials response training. She suggested purchasing school district modular units instead and applying the savings to hazmat response readiness. Spina has raised the lack of hazmat response capacity before.

“Our waterways are critical and we need to protect them,” she said. “We don’t want to wait until something happens.”

McLean said he has been in discussions with the provincial government on that and promised to continue pursuing it. 

“We have heard you, Coun. Spina,” Trawin added. “Hopefully we will be able to come back within a year and say we’ve done it.”

Grouchy 1 says:
September 21, 2016 09:20am

Describes city staff to a T I think.


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Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,
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Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
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Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Ah

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Pierre Filisetti says:
September 20, 2016 09:06pm

Trains loaded with hazmat rolls through our town daily. I was told at least two years ago that they were ready for all emergencies now Trawin is quoted as saying “Hopefully we will be able to come back within a year and say we’ve done it.”
There is something unsettling wrong happening at First and Victoria and in the midst of it at least one person, with misplaced political aspirations, unable or unwilling to act.

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