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Additional funds for heating project approved by Powell River council

Upgrades at recreation complex require more money
City manager of recreation Neil Pukesh Powell River
Powell River Recreation Complex. Peak archive photo

City of Powell River Council has approved additional funding of $82,237 for the Powell River Recreation Complex heating system upgrade project.

At the November 19 city council meeting, councillors reviewed a request for additional money for the boiler replacement project.

The funding request consisted of allocating $35,793 from the community works fund and a $46,444 COVID-19 bonus incentive from FortisBC. Total project cost is $442,683.

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the request was an update. She said the engineering firm retained to assist with the design found a couple of items that hadn’t been recognized when the design was initiated.

“When the bids came in the lowest price bidder was $83,000 more than the budget,” said Leishman. “Luckily, we got a grant from FortisBC so the balance will come out of the community works fund. It’s a great way to be able to put money to this cost-saving project. I’m happy to support this project.”

Council carried the expenditure unanimously.

At the November 17 committee of the whole meeting, manager of recreation Neil Pukesh said on May 7, council approved funding for the boiler replacement project and the total ask was $360,000.

“We engaged Prism Engineering to design the schematics and do the analysis and the engineering for the entire project,” said Pukesh. “Working with our sustainability planner, we worked with Prism Engineering through the summer months and our staff tried to develop a robust system that will achieve the cost-saving measures that we set out to do.

“Through the study we ran into a couple of challenges in terms of the overall design, which is why we are here asking for the additional $35,000.”

Pukesh said on the good side, the city received, through the sustainability planner’s efforts, the FortisBC grant, if the project is completed before March 31, 2021. He said it would be a bit of a challenge shutting down the boilers in the winter months, but working with the engineers, a way to do that was found.

Pukesh said the bidding process closed October 23 and two bids came in. With the lowest bid, the city is short the $82,237, but with the FortisBC grant, the city’s share would be $35,793 to continue with the project.

Pukesh said no local bids were received, which was a little disappointing. He said the cost of the out-of-town bids could be higher because they have to pay for accommodations for their workers.

In a report to the committee, Pukesh stated that even with the increase in the project budget, the return on investment remains excellent. He stated that there is a four-year simple payback on the project. He added that in concert with the digital direct controls optimization work, fully funded by BC Hydro, the payment is even more attractive, with a two-year simple payback.

The changes will leave the city with a net gain of more than $160,000 in the next five years, according to Pukesh.

Mayor Dave Formosa said the recreation complex is a jewel and it’s important to keep upgrading the systems because they are getting older.