Costs of removing rot and asbestos found during renovations at the White Rock museum has eaten away $96,000 intended for exhibits, furnishings, appliances, signage and re-branding for the new facility.
The expense is “far beyond” the budget for the project, museum executive director Sharon Oldaker writes in an April 14 letter to city manager Peggy Clark appealing for the city to bear the cost.
Monday, Oldaker got her wish, as council voted unanimously to cover the $96,000 with funds from the city’s capital works reserve – after questioning why such significant problems weren’t identified or planned for at the start of the project.
“You’re an engineer. Would it not have been appropriate for somebody to take up some floorboards and have a look?” Coun. Al Campbell asked Jorgen Johansen, the city’s manager of engineering.
“Could more exploratory work have been done to make a bigger grant?”
In 2009, federal, provincial and municipal grants totaling $967,334 were announced for the $1.375 million project. Construction got underway last fall.
Johansen responded that a “significant contingency” was budgeted for, particularly given the building’s age. However, the extent of problems was greater than anticipated.
“Unfortunately, it was much worse than was expected,” Johansen said.
Johansen said all of the building’s floor joists had to be replaced. As well, asbestos floor tiles had to be removed and windows replaced.
Cost of the work has left the museum “with very little funds to do the things a museum normally does,” he said.
Oldaker added the “extraordinary expenditures” were necessary to ensure archival and museum collections are protected.
In recommending council approve the funds, Johansen noted the capital works reserve currently has an uncommitted balance of $2.2 million.
Johansen also recommended the city share the $12,525 cost of an upgrade to the new building’s power supply with funds from the city’s unallocated capital works reserve, which has an uncommitted balance of $528,200.
Oldaker had asked the city to foot the full cost of the upgrade, reasoning in her letter that the city had requested the upgrade, “mostly for the benefit of its own programs, services and events.”
Johansen noted the museum “really can’t do without” the additional power now. The upgrade (from 200 to 400 amps) will help avoid possible operational problems during times of high power requirements and provide more power for leisure services events held on the grounds around the museum, he said.
Originally anticipated to be finished in March, work on the museum is now expected complete by the end of May.