New West Kelowna city hall delayed again with more cost overruns | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New West Kelowna city hall delayed again with more cost overruns

FILE PHOTO - The new West Kelowna city hall under construction.

Back in 2016, West Kelowna residents refused twice to allow its city council to borrow money for a new city hall. So council found a way to get it built without voter consent.

Only the project is taking almost 18 months longer than expected and is costing close to $5 million more than was budgeted for including an extra $400,000 added since November.

“Weather, trade and consultant availability, material deliveries and other factors have slowed progress,” says a report going to a West Kelowna council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 27. “The single biggest issue since the last update has been the delays from BC Hydro to electrify the site and building.”

In May 2016, the city initiated an alternative approval process asking for $10.5 million from taxpayers for a $14.8 million city hall. That process requires 10% of voters to sign petitions against a project and rarely fails.

But that effort failed and in the fall of 2016 city council tried again by going to referendum with a $7.7 million ask. That, too, failed.

READ MORE: Voters say no to new West Kelowna city hall

Artist's rendering of new West Kelowna City Hall.
Artist's rendering of new West Kelowna City Hall.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of West Kelowna

So, council started setting aside $700,000 a year in order to build a $7 million reserve that allows it to borrow $11 million without having to go to taxpayers for approval.

In 2020, when West Kelowna announced it was going to finally build its first city hall, the estimated cost was $18 million with a projected opening date of December 2022.

That ballooned to $22.4 million by November 2023, $4.4 million over budget and a year behind schedule.

At that time, it was expected that city staff could start moving in by mid-February at the latest.

The report going to council Tuesday says the move is now expected to start if all goes well towards the end of March through April.

Earlier delays were caused by things like the failure of Structurlam to deliver its mass timber components on time, which created a ripple effect of other delays.

READ MORE: West Kelowna wants to continue building despite legacy cost overruns

Another stumbling block was BC Hydro lines designed to come in from the wrong side of the building, which caused cost increases and delays when they had to be redesigned. That could still slow down the opening, according to the staff report.

Testing of the computer system being set up in the new building, installation of Telus/Shaw connections and even the delivery and installation of a front desk could further delay the opening.

The additional $399,000 in costs since November include $200,000 more in “civil works” than expected, most due to the rerouting of the BC Hydro line, $75,000 for a change in cladding and $124,000 in “delay costs” that were expected but “not fully valued” in the November report.

That brings the expected final cost to $22.8 million, 26.7% over the original $18 million cost estimate.

There are no new taxes being collected to pay for these additional costs with the money to come from the provincial Growing Communities Fund and operating surplus.

No date is projected for when the hall will be open to the public but the first city council meeting is expected to be held there in May.

A community celebration may happen in May or June.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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