By Lee Griffi
The pandemic may have delayed the planning and construction of a new administrative building in East Zorra-Tavistock, but its full steam ahead at a new site in Hickson, right across the street from the current home for staff.
Township Council gave approval in principle to build the new administration building as part of the 2020 budget but with onset of COVID the request for proposals for building design did not get issued until 2021. Township CEO and Treasurer Karen DePrest says the money being spent on the project won’t cost taxpayers anything going forward. “The construction budget is set at $4.5 million so that is what we will be looking for in the tender results, and it will be fully funded by reserves. There will be no debt issued on the project.”
DePrest adds the township’s history of financial stewardship along with utilizing current funding streams are both factors in the development. “The township had been reserving money for this project prior to my arrival at EZT in an Administration Building Reserve. In addition, we reserved our Service Modernization Funding Grant for this project and some of the touchless technology (doors and washrooms) planned for the building is coming from our COVID funding. Funds have also been ear-marked in the Rate Stabilization Reserve to ensure that none of this building will affect future tax years.”
It is no surprise the township’s preferred location for their new digs is in Hickson which is essentially the central portion of East Zorra-Tavistock. While expanding the current site may have been a less expensive option, DePrest says it just isn’t feasible. “The township had acquired the property across the road prior to my starting here at EZT and the site we currently reside on has limitations to any type of expansion. In a report citing the background work that had been done between 2013 and 2018, Council agreed to make use of the property across the road in conjunction with a request from the Hickson Lions to consider a community meeting space here in Hickson.”
The Ventin Group Ltd. out of Toronto was awarded the architectural and engineering services contract by council at a meeting in November of 2021. “They have since been working on the design, site plan, specifications, construction estimates, and more. It is expected that the tender will be let for the construction work the first week in July in hopes of awarding a construction contract within that budget at the August 3 meeting of Council,” says DePrest.
The company has experience designing municipal buildings and samples of their work can be found at https://www.plusvg.com/. “They did have a significant amount of reference material as part of their submission and working with them has been great to date,” she adds.
The consulting and engineering funding for the building was approved in the 2020 capital budget in the amount of $250,000 but the quote came in under budget at $200,000. “Although the original anticipated cost for construction is projected to increase until we see an actual construction tender and cost per square foot number, we are currently paying the architect at their awarded amount,” adds DePrest.
Once the site plan is ready the township expects to send out a tender for the actual construction and according to DePrest things are expected to happen quickly. “The architect is working hard to have the full package of interiors, exteriors, and site layout ready for release in the tender package for (today).
"The tender will be out for bids for 21 days with a proposed closing date of July 21 so that it can be reviewed for compliance and submission to council for approval at the August 3 meeting. If the construction award timeline is achieved, then the hope is that construction would start on or around September 1 this year with a move in date slated for spring or summer of 2023.”