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Squamish council balks at firehall roof replacement

More explanation needed for seismic upgrades, retrofit of RCMP cells

A recommendation to the District of Squamish that would have added close to $50,000 to the cost of a new roof to the Alex Munro Firehall was sent back to the next Committee of the Whole meeting for further discussion, with councillors questioning whether the additional seismic upgrades are necessary.

Although the building is relatively new, constructed in 1999, the roofing system failed and is leaking. Council has already budgeted $100,000 to replace the roof, with a low bid of $103,735 to do the work.

However, the B.C. Building Code's seismic standards have changed since then, and Engineering and Parks staff have requested an additional $50,000 so the building will meet those higher requirements. That money would be borrowed, using authorization room in the borrowing bylaw passed earlier this year, rather than withdrawn from a contingency fund.

The upgrades will make the firehall a "post-disaster building," which means that it will still be standing for firefighters and victims in the event of a major earthquake.

Mayor Greg Gardner pointed out that the roof and building are only 11 years old and that the District of Squamish isn't obligated to meet the new seismic standards - only the seismic standards that were in place when it was constructed.

"Chasing buildings to bring them up to standards is very expensive," he said.

Councillor Corinne Lonsdale pointed out that other municipal buildings like the library and main firehall are older than the Alex Munro Firehall, and were built to even lower seismic standards. "The (main) firehall is a much older building that we know doesn't meet seismic criteria," she said. "I have a tough time with the logic of this one and I just can't support it. We can put it into the budget process and see where it goes in 2012."

Councillors also balked at a plan to upgrade and retrofit the cells at the RCMP detachment to meet new standards after staff recommended using a company that was supported by the RCMP rather than the lowest bidder.

The lowest bid by Squamish BBR Contracting was $36,422, or a cost of $4,552.87 per cell. Olympic Projects of Port Coquitlam bid $47,888 for the same project, while WJ Murphy Contracting of Nanoose Bay - the company preferred by the RCMP - bid $72,733. There were two higher bids of $95,000 and $123,000.

There would also be additional costs related to guarding and transporting detainees to other detachments while construction is underway, adding another $9,000 to the cost.

Council voted to delay a decision until they had time to get more information on the project, including an explanation why WJ Murphy Contracting was favoured by the RCMP even though its bid was higher and the company doesn't have security clearance.

"I've heard what (CAO Kevin Ramsay) said and I understand why the low bidder was discarded," said Lonsdale. "But Olympic's project is $47,000. There's a big difference between $47,000 and $72,000. I'm not comfortable with the extra ($25,000) because the RCMP like it. The taxpayers would like the other one much better."


Council makes landfill decisions

The District of Squamish council passed two landfill-related motions on Tuesday, bringing more than two years of discussion on the future of the facility to a close. The first motion approves $1,198,977 for environmental upgrades to the landfill, as well as $1,389,000 to commence the progressive closure of the landfill while work is underway.

As well, council approved the contract to build a landfill leachate sanity sewer for $417,222 at the site. The current system no longer meets provincial standards, which is a requirement for the community to accept waste from other jurisdictions. The total project is $2.9 million, which includes upgrades, expansion, leachate collection and public area improvements.