The estimated cost for the Ashcroft fire hall renovation project has doubled to $1.2 million following delays brought about by the pandemic. Council approved the new cost, which will be covered by surplus reserve funds. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

The estimated cost for the Ashcroft fire hall renovation project has doubled to $1.2 million following delays brought about by the pandemic. Council approved the new cost, which will be covered by surplus reserve funds. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Ashcroft council approves new $1.2 million estimate for Fire Hall renovation project

Surplus from reserve funds will cover cost increase incurred due to pandemic delays

The Village of Ashcroft has approved a budget increase to renovate the fire hall, after the pandemic hiatus increased previously estimated costs.

The new budget quoted by TriCity Canda Inc. stands at $1.2 million, which doubled from the previous approved cost of $688,000. Ashcroft council approved the new budget at their Sept. 26 meeting.

The renovation project, which will enlarge the fire hall, faced several delays after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also affected the supply chain, explained Yoginder Bhalla, Ashcroft’s chief finance officer (CFO).

Much of the renovation at the hall is due to WCB and safety code requirements which cannot be delayed.

In June 2021, Ashcroft received $688,000 in federal funding to renovate the village’s 63-year-old fire hall. The funding, provided through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, was to help the village upgrade the 3,000-sq. ft hall, which was built as a joint museum/fire hall in 1958, and the adjoining equipment bay, to bring them up to more usable status and legal code.

READ MORE: Ashcroft receives $688,000 grant for fire hall upgrades

By the time the village got the funding and moved to construction, there were significant challenges that amped up the cost of the project, said Bhalla. He attributed the cost increase to electric equipment that tripled in price.

The Village of Ashcroft will be using additional funds from their reserve accounts to move the project forward. Funds will be transferred from surplus grants (such as COVID relief funds), capital reserve, and gas tax funds. Out of these, $300,000 will come from surplus, $120,000 from gas tax, and the rest from capital reserve.

While this back-up allows for them to move forward with the project, it does mean restrictions as the village gets into budgeting, the CFO said during the meeting, and put forward the suggestion to think of bigger contingencies for the future.

Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden thanked the CFO and staff for putting them in a fiscal position to deal with the cost overrun without having to go to the electorate for a loan request.

“Not having to worry about additional debt and not having to go to ask for permission to borrow is an awesome position to be in,” she said.

Work on the renovation project is expected to begin this week, and contractors will work with the fire department to accommodate logistics. The project is anticipated to be complete by late February 2023.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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