Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Zoning for RCMP Detachment site approved, Contract for Construction awarded at Special Regular Council Session on Monday

Prince Rupert Council members hosted a short five minute session on Monday, taking care of a final zoning vote towards the new RCMP detachment site at McBride and Third Avenue East, as well as to announce the successful bidder on the contract for construction of the new police facility for the community.

With only Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven absent for the 3PM session, Council made quick work of the zoning issue, approving fourth and final reading for Zoning Bylaw 3511, 2022

The Council members set the stage for the final vote at their December 5th session when the zoning change from Marine commercial to Public Facility received first, second and third readings.

That vote was followed by the introduction of a report from the Chief Financial Officer which provided background to the Council members on a contract award for the construction of the RCMP detachment to CT Northern Contractors Alliance Limited Partnership.  

The award noted by Mayor Herb Pond as one under the Master Services Agreement.

Council members had an advantage over any residents that may have been watching the Monday afternoon live stream of the Council session, with the report delivered to them prior to the 3 PM session and no Agenda listed for the Special Council Sessions.

Councillor Nick Adey did make an inquiry towards why the contract award was being discussed at the Special Session.

"I'm just wondering why we needed to do this in a Special meeting, what is the time pressure that creates this?"

Towards an explanation Mayor Herb Pond turned to the City Manager Dr. Rob Buchan, who then deferred to the City's Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben.

Ms. Bomben observed how the firm was ready to get to work on the site.

"Actually they're prepared to start right away, but we needed the zoning to actually pass first before we presented a contract award" -- CFO Corinne Bomben

Councillor Adey then followed up with a question for Ms. Bomben on price certainty for the project.

Ms Bomben offering up an explanation of the progressive design build that the project falls under.

"I've outlined the model itself in the report, it is under what is called a progressive design build, and design builds typically, basically, provide much of the detailed design and owner statement of requirements in advance.

And that way everything pretty much is already known, some cost certainty, we have a cost consultant that has vetted the prices that were provided through this contract. 

So there's comfort between both parties, the owner and the contractor to be able to deliver in the price that is the target. 

But I will  pass it over to the Director of Operations for further discussion if there's anything else that he can add." -- CFO Corinne Bomben

For his part Mr. Pucci had few notes towards the topic.

"There's really no more to add, I think our CFO went through it, they've done the exercise, they've got cost consultants and gone out to market and have narrowed that scope down to be able to give us a certain price that we're comfortable with." -- Director of Operations Richard Pucci

Councillor Cunningham followed up with some financial questions towards the contract award.

"I know we took out a loan for 25 million for this and then we had I believe 1.1 million in reserves, so it comes up to the amount of 26.1 

But I see a contingency in here for 1.96 is that contingency definitely going to be used or is it ...  just in case."-- Councillor Barry Cunningham

Ms. Bomben outlined how she views the process moving forward.

"It's definitely just in case, the contract that they've provided is 20 million dollars, it actually includes a small amount of contingency within their contract for any of the last minute unknowns, once they finalize the design because that is a part of the second phase.

However, there's an extra little bit of contingency because we had budgeted the 26.1 million dollars, so all I'm outlining is that it is still within budget and that  of the 26.1 budget, there is that buffer as an extra contingency."

Councillor Cunningham also asked if there could be a price escalation towards the project.

"So, the progressive design build model, which I really don't understand, but you say it's a thing of the future and present and it gives you more stability in pricing.  

But you're also saying that  the design isn't totally complete. 

So could it possibly go higher than the total?"

The CFO  provided an outline as to what elements could come into play in the future.

"The contract takes into account the fact that there could be some small adjustments within it, that would be determined more so after the detailed design. 

However, that being said the owner statement of requirements has been quite thorough, so there would only be very, very small little bits in the last part of the detailed design.  

That are possibly at risk, but that would be within the contingency that is part of the contract." -- CFO Corinne Bomben

With the Council members having exhausted their questions to the topic, council then voted to approve the motion, with all members voting in favour and none opposed.

The contract award is just the latest in the win column for CT Northern Contractors Alliance, which has been selected for a number of previous contract awards in the last few years.

We contacted Corporate Administrator Rosamaria Miller on Monday for some background on how the Special Regular Council session process works when it comes to Agendas and information requirements.  

As well, she also relayed some notes on when residents may expect to see the Report to Council available for review on the city website.

The Council Procedure Bylaw states that notice be posted 24-hours in advance of a Special Meeting but there is no requirement of the agenda. 

That said, it is normally our practice to post the actual agenda, with accompanying reports, online with the notice time was certainly a factor this week. 

Council were able to receive it for the their review but we were unable to get it posted online in time for 3pm today. It will be posted today.

There appears that there was a delay yesterday towards that publication timeline, once the report is posted to the city website we'll include the link.

Update: The Report has now been added to the City of Prince Rupert Agenda page, you can review it here.

So far the City has also not posted a video of the five minute Special Regular Council session to their YouTube archive, should they do so, we will include it as part of this story for the review of our readers.

Update:  Monday's 6 minute Council session video was posted to the archive on Tuesday afternoon.

More notes on the work of Prince Rupert City Council can be reviewed through our Council Discussion page.

Some background on the RCMP detachment plans can be found on our Major Projects Archive page.


  1. A couple of hours' notice to review the biggest contract let in the city in years, you have to do better!

  2. The next question for the city: Will local union labour do the work to build the new RCMP detachment or will either low-wage or out of town workers build it?

    1. Is there any cost overrun protection for the taxpayers or do we just dip into / borrow from Legacy Fund. I hope it's not another blank cheque. Terrace refuses to right them. Why is Rupert different.

    2. CT is on retainer with the city and have a five year Master Service Agreement. They are the first choice construction partner for the city.

    3. It is fine for the contractor the city went with a master service agreement. So, this is a cost-plus job. The more hours and money the contractor spends on completing the project the more they make?

    4. To the poster that says CT is a partner with the city does the city share in profits? Does CT share in incurred loses? Or is this a one way street?

    5. Those are certainly fair questions. There has been a trend in recent years to describe any entity that an organization has dealings with as a "partner". The term has become vacuous. I recall former mayor Brain even describing Northern View as a partner, perhaps because the city buys space for its statutory notices. So much for the appearance of independent journalism. I'm pretty sure, though, that the former mayor never regarded, or spoke of, NCR as a "partner".

    6. In a market where there is RFP competition that may be a negotiable.
      But in this market, where an RFP gets one qualified respondent, it is unlikely.
      At the end of the day, if the project is on time and on budget. Taxpayers are the winners.

    7. I have watched the city jobs. If the job is on time and on budget it would be one of the few.
      Even the Wheelhouse they started adding after the design was put before council. That job is 2 months over now and will be eight months over by the time complete.

      So much for on time. If you remember the supply chain was screwed before they awarded the job so that is not an excuse. There are fixed costs running a project over. Room, board and travel add up in a hurry over eight months

  3. Ms Miller is correct that there is no requirement to post an agenda in advance, but the notice must in general terms describe the purpose of the meeting. That is clearly set out in the Community Charter and the council procedure bylaw.

  4. Process matters because it builds trust and helps as speak up and have a voice in how the city is run. If city council wants residents to trust its actions and motivations, then it needs to start following a process that lets us see what they are up to. And it needs to provide ways for residents to speak up and offer differing points of view. In the end, we elected city council and the mayor and they have the power to decide. But they should be doing this in the open, with room for debate and discussion. Talking about policy and having different points of view strengthens the community and builds trust. That starts with having major decisions made with notice provided, at regular meeting times, and with openness and transparency.

    1. Well said, now to get the elected officials on board. Problem is a lot of the were there and voted for go to this approved contractor route.

  5. This I don't understand:
    "Ms. Bomben observed how the firm was ready to get to work on the site.

    "Actually, they're prepared to start right away, but we needed the zoning to actually pass first before we presented a contract award" --"

    As Barry asked "what's the rush?" Why is the city bowing to the contractors wish. We are going into the holiday season with lots of statutory holidays. Most construction companies are reducing workload at this time of year so the employees can get much needed time off. Will Ms. Bomben assure the taxpayers no overtime will be paid over this period?

    1. What's the rush?
      Borrow $25 million and wait for that first interest payment.
      In saying that, a similar sense of urgency would be appreciated with the Chamberlin Ave building refit for the operations group.
      Do we have "cost consultants" on that project?

    2. I have been watching CN / Wheelhouse job. Now there is one with no rush. You are right Chamberlin has been dead for a long time. 2nd ave. is another one.

    3. Starting right away does not mean that there is a "rush" and there is no evidence that the city is "bowing" to the contractor's wish. The contractor being first choice under the master service agreement does not make this a cost-plus project. There won't be construction workers on overtime over Xmas because the contract is for design and build and the design needs to be completed before the build starts. The $1.96 million for contingency is 7.5% of the City's $26.1 million budget estimate, which is within the range of contingency allowances for construction projects of this scale. A loan for $25 million does not mean that the entirety of that amount has been withdrawn and that interest is being accrued. Far more likely is that cash draws will be made as required as phases of the design and build are completed, reviewed and signed off on by the cost consultants. Disclosure: I have no association with the City, CT partnership, or the City's cost consultants. However, I have a qualification in project management and have read the Report that NCR has linked. Reading the latter document is recommended.