Albion Community Centre will open some time in 2020. (THE NEWS/files)

Albion Community Centre tab almost doubles

Site costs add $5 million to Maple Ridge building

The price of Maple Ridge’s new Albion Community Centre is almost doubling from $10 million to between $17 million and $18 million.

So staff are proposing the project stall a bit, by 10 months, so the city has a chance at a federal/provincial grant that could pay for a good part of the increased cost.

Senior recreation manager Don Cramb said the initial $10 million estimate was made two years ago and didn’t include site servicing costs.

“Back then, we hadn’t even determined the exact site, and the size of the site.”

Site preparation and excavation, design and construction costs, as well as inflation have since pushed up the cost in those two years to $15.4 million.

Delaying the project by 10 months in order to qualify for the Community, Culture and Recreation Program grant will add another $600,000 to the cost and attaining an energy efficiency LEED silver rating will add another $800,000, bringing the total cost to about $17 million.

The Albion Community Centre was estimated to cost $10 million, with $8.5 million of that from borrowing, when it was approved by the public during last February’s alternative approval process.

Cramb said that putting up a project for public approval involves getting only a rough estimate because there’s no point spending millions getting detailed costs if it’s rejected by the public anyways.

“The alternative is to go through the full design process. It’s kind of like a Catch 22.”

According to a Dec. 11 staff report, the Community, Culture and Recreation program could get the city up to $5 million to offset the final cost of the project.

But under the rules of that grant, cities cannot seek bids for a project until they have been awarded a grant. Grants are announced in September 2019, so construction of the building can’t start until then. However, site preparation that involves heavy equipment can start earlier, so staff recommended that get going so it’s done before the school opens, in September 2019.

Under the CCR program, the city could apply for up to 73 per cent of the cost of a project, but is more likely to get a smaller amount, such as between $3 million and $5 million.

Maple Ridge could also reduce costs by another $1 million if it receives a federal Enabling Accessibility Fund grant of that amount, given to projects that improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

The city also could reduce costs by another $1 million if it receives Community Childcare Space Creation Program grant, which helps create new childcare spaces.

In a best-case scenario, the city could get $7 million in grants.

A worst-case scenario is it gets no grants. If that happens, the city will use money that’s coming in from the community amenity contributions, paid by the developers for each home built.

The project on 104th Avenue at 240th Street is being built on the same site as c’usqunela elementary, which opens next September.

On a cost breakdown basis, the Albion Community Centre will be funded by $8.5 million in borrowing, approved during last February’s alternative approval process, and another $1.5 million from community amenity contributions.

Another $2.25 million comes from a parks and rec reserve fund, and $750,000 from development fees, with up to $5 million in grants.

Cramb said that the site has steep slopes and backs on to a riparian area and a portion of it requires a high retaining wall, all of which add to costs.

“It’s almost getting built right into the bank,” said Cramb.

Maple Ridge council approved the plan without comment at its Tuesday meeting.

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