Surrey Council Chambers at city hall. (File photo)

Surrey Council Chambers at city hall. (File photo)

Surrey Connect accuses Safe Surrey Coalition of $24M ‘selfish’ Cloverdale arena delay

Costs have risen for Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex and Newton Community Centre

The Surrey Connect slate is accusing the Safe Surrey Coalition majority on city council of costing Surrey taxpayers $24 million through a “selfish” delay of the Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex.

Its press release issued Feb. 16 notes that the project was costed at $35 million in the city’s 2018-2022 financial plan and $4 million was spent preparing the land in 2018, but in 2019 “Team McCallum” removed it from the 2019 budget only to see it resurface in the 2022-2025 financial plan “at a whopping” $55 million, with $4 million “wasted on previous preparation.”

Mayor Doug McCallum declined to comment. Coun. Doug Elford hit back at Surrey Connect.

“You mean the complex that they never supported in the budget? It’s interesting how they have a comment on a project that they didn’t even support, and then they did support,” Elford said. “None of them supported the capital budget, none of them. Yet they’re commenting on it. Well they supported it when it came to the bylaws and the permits, but not the actual capital budget, so go figure.”

Surrey Connect also charged that Surrey has the “absolute worst ice availability” in all of B.C. with the average rink-to resident ratio in B.C. being 1:26,000 and Surrey’s being 1:68,600. While the arena was scheduled to open in early 2020 that’s been delayed to late 2024 and while it would have been paid for through internal borrowing, the press release states, the City of Surrey now has to “tap into our friends at the Municipal Finance Authority to borrow the money at a higher rate to pay for the project.”

Meantime, three Surrey councillors asked city staff during Monday night’s council meeting to explain why costs have risen for two major community projects, Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex and Newton Community Centre.

Council increased the expenditure authorization limit for its contract with Taylor Kurtz Architecture + Design Inc., in association with Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley Architects Inc. by $1,502,311.65, to $2,629,066.65 from $1,126,755 for the Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex and revised the authorized spending limit to $2,900,000.

Council also on Monday awarded Crown Contracting Limited $1,370,738.99 for the Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex frontage works and set the spending limit at $1,507,800. This includes 177B Street roadwork between 62 Avenue and 64 Avenue and improvements to 64 Avenue, including pedestrian, cycling and vehicle access to the complex.

Coun. Linda Annis, of Surrey First, noted the bids ranged from $1.37 million to $2.1 million and asked city staff if the same materials and specifications were the same and “why there was such a variance.” She was told they all involved the same scope of work, means, methods and materials.

Coun. Jack Hundial, of Surrey Connect, asked for a reason for the increased cost of the Cloverdale and the Newton projects. He was told in the case of the Newton project it was because the addition of a pool requires a more complicated design.

Coun. Brenda Locke, also of Surrey Connect, said she “fully” understands the change in the pool’s size creates “challenges,” but asked what was reduced in the design. City Manager Vincent Lalonde replied that he wouldn’t portray it as the scope being reduced “because the budget and the scope has almost doubled, but what has changed is the priority on which elements to build under the first contract.”

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He said originally the city was looking at building a library, cultural centre, community centre and a swimming pool “of a much smaller scale.

“Council decided to build the full-size, 10 lane Olympic pool,” he said. “The scope is definitely much bigger.”

Council also increased the scope of work for the Newton Community Centre’s design and construction administration services as well as the authorized expenditure limit to $7,900,000 (including GST and contingency). A corporate report also recommended the expenditure authorization limit for the city’s contract with TKA+D Architecture + Design Inc., in association with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd., be increased by $2,744,630.99 to $7,101,700.49 (including GST) from $4,357,069.50 for the Newton Community Centre project.

Locke asked staff to explain what’s driving the changes in costs from the 2018-19 plan to the current one. Lalonde replied that the price of steel has gone up “significantly.”

“I think that’s accountable for about $5 million of the additional cost,” he told council. “And the rest is just more general construction escalation. Of course each year construction costs more and more. It’s not uncommon with anything that we build; basically the longer we wait the more it costs to build.”

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