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Local company secures library contract

Seniors housing component dropped from project

Local trades will have a big role to play in the construction of Whistler’s new library, according to Jim Charters, president of Whistler Construction Company.

"We are going to invite the local trades to participate in the project and, if they don’t understand the process, help them with that," said Charters, whose company was recently awarded the library building contract.

"I’m involved with the (local chapter of the) homebuilders association as well and we can talk to some of the members and try to get them involved so it’s truly a community project. We need to have the community involved so we’ll do our best to get them all engaged."

Charters is planning to hold a seminar open to all local tradesmen, which will show local companies how they can be a part of this project and future community projects.

This is just one of the many reasons why Whistler Construction Company came out on top during the selection process for the library construction management team. The company’s bid submission was also the lowest of the complete bids received.

At Monday’s council meeting municipal Parks Planner Martin Pardoe walked council through the detailed selection process to find a library contractor. Both municipal staff and BCBC, the Crown management corporation, were involved in the selection process.

Of the 11 firms that responded to the call for project management services, said Pardoe, only four were chosen to move forward to the next round.

They were International Land Corporation, Kindred Construction, Task Construction Management and Whistler Construction Company.

Those four firms were asked to provide proposals by the July 12 deadline.

Only three responded.

Pardoe said the firms were weighted on a series of criteria including experience, familiarity with the project site and with Whistler, proposal content, project methodology and management and fees.

Whistler Construction scored highest with or without their $653,000 fees factored into the equation.

These fees, explained Pardoe, are made up of three per cent construction value fee, plus reimbursable construction costs and expenses of $482,500 for things like a site trailer, a site supervisor and first aid supplies.

Whistler Construction has been in the business for more than 35 years. The company’s work ranges from commercial and residential buildings to institutional buildings.

The company also has experience in building "green" buildings, which are eligible for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. LEED is a U.S national standard for developing high-performance sustainable buildings.

Whistler Construction built the Spring Creek Firehall, which is currently going through its LEED certification.

"LEED firstly is just a method of measuring the sustainable practices and the recycled products used in the building and those things are documented throughout the course of the construction," said Charters.

The new library, which has a $7 million price tag, will be a LEED building.

Though it may look like it’s more work to build a LEED building, Charters said it’s not as complicated as it appears.

"The biggest thing is understanding how it works and getting information as the project is proceeding rather than trying to do it all at the end," he said.

A brand new design for the library building is being developed. The building will be 14,500 square feet, including underground parking. The library will occupy 12,000 square feet.

Council approved the latest developments in the library project with only Councillor Nick Davies expressing disappointment that seniors housing had finally been taken off the table as a component of the library building.

Staff had looked at the possibility of putting eight units of housing above the library for seniors, with a satellite building on site made up of 16 units.

After further investigation and discussions with the Mature Action Committee staff rejected the concept.

MAC Chair Gord Leidal explained that though the group is eager to see some seniors housing in Whistler, the library site was not their best option.

"It’s more the limitations of the site," he said.

"MAC’s goals are to have a seniors development that can be more of a community, that has, in the long term, more units associated with it. That site (the library) was somewhat limited in that respect.

"In our discussions with the municipality, there are other opportunities out there that we believe may be more attractive and provide the opportunity for a more complete community. And so we’re hopeful that something might happen there."

Davies however, who has more than once raised the issue of putting upscale market units for seniors above the library, said the decision to remove the housing was due to "a lack of imagination."

The market units he said could have offset the cost of the library project.

More importantly he said there is a need for this kind of housing in the community, pointing to people such as middle managers who are looking for an upscale product but not in the multi-million dollar range.

The library project is scheduled to break ground in April and will take roughly one year to build.

Charters said: "Our team is totally up to the challenge and we are local and just totally thrilled to be involved."