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Hamilton makes cuts to waterfront project due to $15M budget overrun

The value of building permits issued in Hamilton in 2021, has surpassed the $2 billion mark. Lisa Polewski / Global News

Cost overruns identified in a September city report have forced cutbacks in the $156-million project to redevelop Hamilton’s waterfront.

In order to meet an $11.5-million budget shortfall for Phase 1 of the project, the city’s waterfront subcommittee on Tuesday decided to discard some developments with the aim of saving $15 million and bringing the plan back in line with original budget estimates from 2012.

The West Harbour Waterfront Recreation Master Plan (WHWRMP) is expected to transform piers 5 through 8 into a destination spot for residents with a boardwalk, fish habitat, waterfront trail, public spaces and public and private multipurpose buildings.

Among the nine changes to the WHWRMP are the cutting of $3.8 million in shoreline work at Macassa Bay, $2.49 million in redevelopment at Bayview Park and a million-dollar remediation of the Barton-Tiffany area.

READ MORE: Hamilton’s waterfront project needs another $11.5M to cover shortfall: report

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The city’s engineering services division suggested the changes to the subcommittee in order to allow phased construction of the public space at piers 5 through 7 to proceed to tender in 2019.

Staff also proposed that some projects be deferred and suggested the redirection of surplus funds from another project to address budget shortfalls.

Subcommittee chair and Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr says the pedestrian promenade at the foot of James Street near piers 6 and 7 is the element causing the bulk of the cost overruns.

The redevelopment of that part of the waterfront has been a target for the city for over two decades, and Farr says the amendments to the plan are to adjust a 2012 price point to align with what the project now costs in 2019.

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“We knew that we would have to find ways to mitigate what would most definitely be some overages, and so that’s what we did over the course of the last six weeks where we found those efficiencies and traded off some projects within the West Harbor scope,” Farr told Global News Radio.

Farr said the pedestrian project is now up for tender after the ratification of the new plan on Monday, putting an estimated $22 million worth of commercial opportunities on the market.

The subcommittee chair says expediting development in this area is key to showing potential investors the nature of the elements that are expected to attract Hamiltonians and people from all over.

“That’s the piece over the course of the last six weeks that we adjusted — took other smaller projects and paid for an overage, ” said Farr.

Public developments are set for Phase 1 of the waterfront development, which, according to the original plan, includes construction of a new shoreline, and fish habitat. Phase 2 is expected to be a waterfront trail, plaza and pedestrian bridges.

Phase 3, an artisan village, is over budget by about $3.6 million, according to city planners.

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The boardwalk — designed by Toronto-based Forrec Ltd. — has also hit an overrun with an anticipated cost of $9.3 million more than originally forecast.

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