Lake Cowichan town hall cost estimates: apples to apples please

When you house hunt in real life and a hoped for windfall isn’t there, you buy a smaller house.

Town hall cost estimates: apples to apples please

Let’s hope the upcoming analysis of how to improve town hall includes some common sense about what we really need as well as true apple to apple cost comparisons of the various alternatives.

While it is true that past councils have preferred a renovation of the existing facility it is also true that despite some prudent saving, that sufficient money has never been available to fund the project. The result has been a form of tunnel-vision leaving the town counting on a lottery ticket in the form of a grant to meet the shortfall. That sounds a lot more like a whim to me.

We need to see the full cost of the proposed renovation of the existing facility. Upwards of a $1 million sounds very optimistic given the project seems more rebuild than renovation and appears to reflect the funds available more than total cost. We could easily be looking at $2-$2.5 million or more when all is said and done. Everyone has a budget and that seems like an awful lot for a small office and meeting facility.

Not completing the “renovation” all in one year doesn’t save any money if it commits us to completing the project down the road as we have enough unfinished projects in town waiting for funds. Some recent projects have come in over budget or had portions of them pushed into the future due to lack of funds, it could easily be worse with current day cost estimates of future of phases given we don’t know when they would done or what other town priorities there would be at the time.

We don’t yet know if the Kingdom Hall is a viable option but we do know that the building is in far better condition than the current town hall, meaning we can be more certain as to the end of the expenses. All options should be on the table.

Renovating the current town hall to such an extent could be throwing good money after bad. One advantage to choosing another location is that it would free up the current site in the centre of town for some type of future public use be it park, mixed use etc.

A big important decision for taxpayers and town employees to be sure. By all means, let’s get on with the project as the current offices are clearly past their best before date, but let’s consider our actual needs without the “nice to haves”. When you are house hunting in real life and a hoped for windfall doesn’t come to pass, you buy a smaller house.

Maybe we should too.

Dave Allen

Lake Cowichan

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