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Third time the charm: Kings County council awards construction contract for new municipal complex

Kings County council votes to approve a contingency fund for the new municipal complex construction project at a special meeting on Jan. 10.
Kings County council votes to approve a contingency fund for the new municipal complex construction project at a special meeting on Jan. 10. - Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE, NS - Now that the construction contract for the new County of Kings municipal complex has been awarded, the area councillor feels like celebrating.

Coun. Bob Best, who represents Coldbrook, said, “I think we should have a big party out there as soon as possible.” The new municipal complex will be located on a Coldbrook Village Park Drive property approximately six acres in size.

“I’d like to see, Mr. Mayor, you organize that as soon as possible please,” Best said.

Mayor Peter Muttart said he was thinking of holding such an event after the building is roof-tight. Best said he’d like to see it happen before then, as the weather has been cold but “we have lots of clothes.”

“I appreciate your comment and we’ll raise that up the flagpole and see who salutes,” Muttart said.

Following a closed-door session on Jan. 10 that lasted nearly two hours, Kings County council opened a special meeting to the public. The vote was unanimous to award the construction contract for the new municipal complex to Roscoe Construction of Cambridge for the total price of $5,310,000 plus HST.

Council voted unanimously to approve a contingency fund of $398,250, representing 7.5 per cent of the construction contract value, for potential change orders.

Council also voted unanimously in favour of a motion that was amended successfully by Coun. Pauline Raven to approve a change order for consulting firm Stantec “in an amount up to” $153,800 plus HST. This is for additional services related to redesigning the new municipal complex.

Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz commended Scott Quinn, manager of engineering and public works, lands and parks, for all his work and the “turbulence” he’s been through getting the municipality to this point on the project.

Coun. Brian Hirtle said it’s very rewarding that a local contractor would be building the complex on the original site and at “a very good price.”

A ‘fractious’ process

Following the special meeting, Muttart said there had been “no fulsome consultation” with the public on the location of the new complex earlier in the process. The current council wanted to ensure that there was proper consultation formally conducted so that citizens would feel that they had been engaged and their opinions heard.

“We went through that process and I’m happy to say that, at the end of the day, I do believe the public feels that the project is now sited in the location that they felt it should be,” Muttart said.

There was also an issue with whether or not municipal staff had been adequately consulted about requirements for space and future growth within the building. Muttart said it was concluded that there hadn’t been a fulsome consultation with staff.

After those consultations took place, Muttart said it was determined that it was imperative to enlarge the footprint of the building to adequately accommodate staff requirements. In doing that, it was also determined that it would be useful to add to the footprint an incubator space for new start-ups within the community.

He said it was determined that more public parking spaces were necessary, as an earlier design included only 12. The decision was made to site the public works garage in a different, strategic location that has yet to be determined so that more space is available for parking and the increased building footprint. All these issues necessitated a redesign for the new complex.

“What we’re now happy to say is that having had all of that consultation, having analyzed this in detail with a critical eye, we’ve got a substantially different building that has provided for all of our requirements within the foreseeable future for this organization,” Muttart said.

He said council is gratified that a local contractor who had the lowest of eight bids by several hundred thousand dollars has been awarded the construction contract. Having eight bidders created “a healthy competition.” Amongst the bidders, four were within 10 per cent of each other, providing council with a sense of certainty that the price is “on the mark.”

Muttart said the lengthy process has been somewhat “fractious”, which is regrettable, but sometimes things have to be that way to arrive at the “correct result.”

“I believe we have arrived at the correct result,” he said.

The current municipal complex on Cornwallis Street in Kentville has been sold to the province for use by the Department of Justice, necessitating new quarters. In 2015, council canceled the first request for proposals for the new municipal complex due to the bids being significantly over budget.

At a special meeting in January 2017, council cancelled a request for proposals for a second time by voting against awarding the construction contract to Roscoe Construction for the total price of $5,699,000 plus HST. This price would have included the public works garage.

Public comment

The lone member of the public in the gallery for the special meeting was Chris Cann of Baxter’s Harbour. During the public comment period, he drew attention to an article by Larry Bogan printed in a Kings County publication, The Blue Sky Journal, in October 1979.

The article, titled “Small Earth Community: A Valley Resource Centre”, represents a vision of Bogan’s to have a centre established in a Kings County town that would provide resources to the public not readily available elsewhere in the Valley.

Cann tied the article to the possibility of forging community partnerships and establishing such a centre in conjunction with the new municipal complex. He’s hopeful that this hasn’t been “designed out.”

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

Click here to read how the site for the new complex was selected.

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