Upon learning the budget for the new composting facility had jumped from $6 million to $12 million recently, Councillor Eckhard Zeidler set out to find out why.
This week he laid out all the aspects of the budget, from the $1 million cost for site preparation to the $1.8 million net deal to buy the facility from Carney’s in Squamish.
The budget increase is not due to cost overruns, rather the project scope has morphed as work continues on the site.
For example, council wanted to move away from business as usual at the Squamish plant, which had front-end loaders moving the materials on site. Instead, it decided to pursue a crane option. It cost $400,000.
“For the long term we felt that handling that material as benignly as we could without creating greenhouse gas emissions was the way to go and that is when a crane within the building to move these materials around became the right decision to make,” said Zeidler.
“When we first decided to purchase the composter as it was we didn’t fully recognized the opportunities of how this could move us to dramatically more sustainable practices through closing a big part of our waste loop,” said Zeidler.
And while it was a surprise to council to learn the budget had doubled in a few short months — the details of that budget increase were never fully presented to council — he still believes it’s a worthwhile and timely investment for the community.
“Some elements of that were a surprise to council and that to me is not the way that I like to do business,” said Zeidler. “The changes in scope and the decisions that were being made I believe are all very sound and I have no question about that but there was a gap in the communication of some of these elements and that is being dealt with internally at the hall.”
Mayor Ken Melamed also commented on the budget increase this week and the fact that council was not kept in the loop.
“I’d be concerned if it was something I considered to be optional,” said the mayor. “But it’s not.”
It’s an example, he explained, of council choosing a path and then moving so far down the road that it’s not possible to turn back.
The $6 million cost estimates in August were the best estimates by the best consultants at the time.
“It was too late to go back,” he explained.
“I have such utmost faith in our staff… and their due diligence…. There was no intention to deceive.”
The new costs include:
• $1.8 million net deal to buy the facility from Carney’s
• $1.5 million to refurbish it and move it on site
• $1.1 million for a building to keep the materials in a dry environment
• $0.5 million for a closed loading system at the wastewater treatment plant to contain the smell of the sludge
• $0.4 million for the crane
• $0.4 million for a wood hog to chip wood
• $0.8 million in consulting, engineering and design fees
• $1 million in site preparation
• $1.9 million for concrete, building supplies
• $1.9 million for the electrical component of the facility, which include hooking directly to BC Hydro for a greatly reduced rate
• $0.5 million for contingency
Costs to date total just under $12 million.