Brantford City Council has unanimously approved a $750,000 budget increase for the Civic Centre’s new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system during their reguar Council meeting on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
Councillor Dan McCreary brought the urgent report that council approve the increase of the overall project budget from $3.5 million to $4.25 million (funded by the Casino Legacy Reserve) in order to be able to procure and install the equipment in a timely manner before the OHL 2023-24 season playoffs in April.
On Tuesday, March 28, 2022, Council unanimously approved the non-competitive procurement for the installation of the HVAC system from Vicano Construction Limited for the estimated cost of $1,625,000. However, in April, City staff notified Council that the vendor and the City had agreed to not continue to partner on this project.
In May, the City engaged Trane Canada under the Kinetic group purchasing organization for a full design and installation estimate. Trane initially indicated on June 15 that the approximate budget would be in the range of $3.5 million.
Since Council approved the budget increase, Trane has since completed more detailed reviews, as well as several site inspections to better reflect the cost for the installation in the 56-year-old building. The vendor indicated that it’s become clear that the building will need a bigger HVAC unit than expected.
“The detail design has progressed to a point where we are ready to procure the equipment,” said Inderjit Hans, Commissioner of Public Works. “So, through the various stages of detail design, the actual costs are now clear to staff.”
Hans noted that the increase is based on the fluctuation of material and labour costs as well as the complexity of completing the project during the Bulldogs season.
“It varies in terms of the equipment, lead time, material, labor and cost, and that fluctuates with market availability and whatnot,” he said. “We have worked with Trane, the vendor of choice, and they have brought down this price considerably by working with our staff and CAO Brian Hutchings.”
Councillor Richard Carpenter said that while he understands the increase in the cost of materials as they go up with inflation, he asked Hans if there was any way to hold the vendor accountable.
“We are in discussions with Trane and we have been very clear that this is the cost that we want to move forward with and that if approved, we do not want to see any other increase to the budget,” replied Hans. “It’s more so for the material and the actual units that we’re purchasing. There were two options that were provided, one more expensive than this one, so we did move forward with the lesser of the two just to ensure that our costs are within reason.”
Mayor Kevin Davis said that while they are all concerned about the increase in price, he said that this is a “once in a generation opportunity to showcase our community and the last thing you want to see is ice melting during playoffs.”
“It could be very bad,” he continued. “We know that if we’re going to use this facility in the summer, including the potential playoffs, it could reflect very poorly on our community. It’s not ideal, but our reputation is at stake here.”
Councillor Gino Caputo noted that as someone who has been involved with opening various businesses in cities throughout the province, not once did the cost ever come in under budget.
“The biggest cost that always goes up is the HVAC system,” said Caputo. “…Yes, I’m disappointed in this, but I was expecting something along these lines – probably not to the tune of three quarters of a million dollars – but as it’s been stated before, we’re trying to put something very modern into a very archaic building.”
Councillor Michael Sullivan echoed his fellow councillors concern about the increase and asked if they approve the budget increase, will Trane guarantee that the HVAC system will be installed on time for April 2024.
“I would hate for us to go out and shell out another $750,000 and then not be able to deliver,” he said.
Gord Gravilovic, Manager of Facilities Capital Development, said yes.
“They know what our drop-dead date is, and their schedule reflects that this system will be in place and operational for the start of the playoffs for the Bulldogs which is around the end of March, beginning of April,” he said.
Council then voted unanimously to approve the budget increase for Trane Canada.