Three Rivers council accepted a tender for its new administrative office in Montague submitted by Williams, Murphy and MacLeod for $2.44 million at a special meeting March 29.
WM&M’s bid came in below a bid from MacLean’s Construction, worth $2.679 million. Both companies are based in Charlottetown. WM&M is currently building the town’s sewage treatment plant in Montague.
The town’s consultant, Roy Main, said the increase from a budgeted $1.9 million was due to the skyrocketing cost of building materials.
The tender was to be awarded April 12, but Mr Main recommended doing it earlier to avoid a scheduled April 1 price increase in building supplies, and before the calendar turns to the 2021/22 fiscal year.
Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston said the town has $1.9 million on hand from insurance, which leaves just over half a million left to pay via mortgage.
Mayor Ed MacAulay said that works out to a mortgage payment similar to what the town is already paying to rent the Kings Playhouse for meetings.
He said it’s good to be approaching the start of building, primarily because the office will give town staff a proper home to work in.
“They’ve been really in upheaval since the fire took down Montague Town Hall, then with amalgamation the number of staff has grown. They were (working) in trailers. They do have a decent space now, but it’s good to get the wheels moving in that direction.”
The exact date for breaking ground will depend on how quickly it thaws, but the mayor expects to see a lot of activity this month.
He said he wasn’t surprised only two bids were submitted, noting how busy construction companies have been, especially with a labour shortage. He said not many companies can commit the time required for a project of this size.
Councillor Alan Munro raised the question of when Three Rivers will declare its town hall. He said it doesn’t make sense to construct a $2.44 million building and then build something else. He said council should stop beating around the bush about having its town hall in Montague.
Mayor MacAulay said he doesn’t think residents are ready to have a town hall yet but is willing to discuss it with council. He told The Graphic he would like to see significant public input on the matter and potentially a future plebiscite. He believes it’s a decision for residents, not for council.
Population growth in the future could factor into the decision, according to the mayor, and he doesn’t want to create more division.
“A lot of people feel Three Rivers was put together to be an extension of Montague. If we say this is the town hall, that pretty well seals the deal in some people’s eyes. I’m hesitant to start that controversy.”
Mayor MacAulay also suggested a larger building with community facilities such as a gym might be feasible in the long-term.
“I want this process to be as fair as possible for everyone (but) that’s my opinion. I don’t run Three Rivers. If council wants to bring this forward and make this administration building the town hall, I’m sure it’s going to come forward.”