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Arena costs detailed in online report

Costs jump almost $18 million

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The so-called “Whistler factor” which elevates the cost of construction in the resort was pegged at a 40 per cent premium for the sledge hockey arena, according to a staff report.

This premium resulted in an increase of $17.9 million in total capital costs.

Whistler council passed on the opportunity to build the arena for the 2010 Paralympic Games because it was too expensive. The report detailing the costs is now available on the municipality’s website.

Of particular interest is the “Whistler factor” which was determined in part by comparing other non-residential projects in the resort, such as the library and the cultural centre.

BTY Group outlined why there is a 40 per cent premium on building that arena in Whistler, citing both market and geographic forces such as:

• scarcity of labour, especially specialized labour;

• material, with increased transportation costs and construction equipment;

• less competitive marketplace with just one concrete supplier in the area;

• higher insulation requirements, due to climate;

• village guidelines;

• snow management issues, and

• larger sizes and mechanical equipment and distribution.

But it was the size and span of the arena that posed one of the biggest factors.

BTY Group was a quantity surveyor for the Spring Creek School. To justify the higher funding from the Ministry of Education for that school BTY compared it to a design for the school as if it was being built in Greater Vancouver.

“The classroom block showed a 17 per cent structural cost premium, but the longer-span gymnasium block showed a premium of 122 per cent,” states the report.

The Paralympic arena had a large roof span.

“With a large roof structure like that… the snowload factor here contributes to the amount of steel that’s required in that structure and that steel is very expensive and represents one of the largest cost components of the facility,” said Mike Kirkegaard, the municipality’s manager of community planning and sustainability.

“The fact that we have much higher snowload requirements than in the Lower Mainland compounds the large span issue and results in a much higher cost premium.”

For more details on the costs of the Paralympic arena go to www.whistler.ca

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