Saskatoon police HQ cost soars

Saskatoon police HQ cost soars - image

The cost of Saskatoon’s police headquarters could now top $130 million.

City of Saskatoon administration will ask council Monday to authorize a new payment plan for the headquarters that will see up to $40 million added to the budget.

The exact price of the approximately 330,000-square-foot facility won’t be known until the winning firm is selected in two weeks time, but the city is preparing for a potential rise in cost, with a new estimate prepared by the consultant, Toronto-based Rebanks Pepper Littlewood Architects Inc., which specializes in public safety buildings.

"I’m absolutely hopeful (the final number) will come in under that amount," said Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill in an interview Wednesday. "I don’t think when the process started anyone would imagine we’d be requiring an expenditure of this amount. The original estimate (of $91 million) we had is three or four years old and we’ve had a lot of growth in the city since that time so when you put those two together . . . I think we’re getting value for our money here."

The $91-million figure was based on a 3 1/2 year-old estimate before updated plans saw the headquarters grow from a 220,000-square-foot facility to its present size. The added space accounts for heated parking and above-ground parking, mechanical and electrical spaces, and exhibit storage and locker areas.

Construction on the headquarters, on the 25th Street extension in the north downtown, will begin this summer and is expected to be complete by 2013.

The $131-million amount includes land costs, consultant fees, building equipment and the facility itself. The police service will move as much equipment as possible from the present downtown police station and delayed needed upgrades in anticipation of the new headquarters in an attempt to reduce costs, Weighill said.

To pay for the potential $131-million project, the city will add a major new wrinkle and borrow over a longer repayment term -30 years. Traditionally, the city has paid loans off over 10 or 15 years.

The longer term is meant to "lessen the burden as much as we can on the taxpayer," Weighill said.

An annual tax increase for the facility will jump by 2012 to $850,000, and the city will extend the plan to nine years from seven.

In 2017, when property tax increases cease for the project, ratepayers will contribute $7.5 million annually until the building is paid off.

Police administration were criticized recently by a councillor for not making the increased cost and size known in a public report to council before asking for proposals from a short list of firms, but Weighill said the process has been open and transparent.

"It would have been irresponsible to throw numbers out (last year) . . . and allow the (bidding) proponents to drive to a certain number," he said.

The police station is being built with a design-build model where firms complete detailed drawings and cost estimates before a winner is selected. Under the design-build model, the winning firm is held to its proposed construction deadline and will take on the risk of cost increases.

The three remaining firms in contention for the project are all joint partnerships between construction companies and architecture firms. PCL Construction is bidding with Stantec, Graham Construction with AECOM and local firm Kindrachuk Agrey Architects, and EllisDon Corp. with Toronto-based CS&P Architects and local firm Aodbt architecture and interior design.

The bidding process closes April 13 and the final price tag is expected to be made public by the end of May.

Winnipeg and Calgary have recently purchased existing buildings larger than 500,000 square feet to serve as their police headquarters for comparable costs to a new station in Saskatoon, Weighill said.

The benefit of a new building is that architects can build it intentionally for police purposes, he said.

"We’re getting a bona fide police facility built for the police," he said.


Calgary: In 2009, the Calgary Police Service purchased the old Nortel complex in the northeast part of the city. The move consolidated 12 separate facilities into the 650,000 square-foot building. The move will be finished this year when renovations to the east wing are completed, officials say. The total cost of the move is pegged at $130 million. The province provided $106.5 million of the project’s funding, with the remaining $18.5 million provided by the City of Calgary.

Winnipeg: Winnipeg police will spend $135 million to purchase and renovate the 10-storey, 560,000-square-foot Canada Post building to house a new headquarters for the Winnipeg Police Service. The move is expected in mid-2013.

Edmonton: Edmonton’s headquarters were built in 1982 just outside the downtown at 365,000 square feet. The building houses 600 employees at a maximum. Police have five division substations around Edmonton. There are no plans to build a new facility, but "it’s probably time to start fact-gathering," an official said.

Source: Calgary Herald, Calgary Police Service, Winnipeg Free Press, Edmonton Police Service


Annual Cumulative

Year Tax hike Tax total Total Cash

2006 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000

2007 $250,000 $250,000 $500,000

2008 $750,000 $1M $1.5M

2009 $750,000 $1.75M $3.25M

2010 $750,000 $2.5M $5.75M

2011 $750,000 $3.25M $9M

2012 $850,000 $4.1M $13.1M

2013 $850,000 $4.95M $18.65M

2014 $850,000 $5.8M $24.45M

2015 $850,000 $6.65M $31.1M

2016 $850,000 $7.5M $38M

2017 $0 $7.5M Unknown


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