By Chad Ingram
During their Feb. 20 meeting Algonquin Highlands council approved an expansion of the Dorset Heritage Museum a project that will cost significantly more than initially anticipated.
As previously reported during a January council meeting park rec and trails director Chris Card told councillors there was a shortfall of nearly $75000 for the construction of a 960-square-foot addition to the museum after bids for the project came in much higher than expected.
Last year the township was successful in obtaining a $150000 capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation toward the project and the plan was that the rest of the money would be fundraised. It was anticipated the total price tag would be $270000.
However the two bids the township received were for $393500 and $483000 respectively. A report from Card showed that were council to accept the lower bid along with engineering project oversight and contingency costs the total estimated cost for the project is now just more than $525000.
With the $150000 grant a $32000 transfer from general reserves a $185000 transfer from the special projects reserve $35000 from the anticipated 2019 surplus and $50000 in anticipated donations through a fundraising group for the museum there would still be a shortfall of more than $73300.
A condition of the OTF grant is that the project must be completed by September.
“I think we need to have a very serious conversation about tenders for projects on municipal property and who has the authority to manage them” Mayor Carol Moffatt had said during the January meeting. Bracebridge-based Granite Engineering Services had completed the initial drawings for the project and Card told councillors the museum committee had also used Granite to draw up the tender.
While the township asked the lower of the two bidders to come back with figures for a project of revised scope that change would have resulted in savings of just more than $6000.
“The estimated savings are considerably less than what was desirable given the change in scope” read a report from Card that councillors received last week. “The total estimated savings are relatively negligible given the overall project cost of $525552.”
Ultimately councillors agreed to proceed with the project as initially designed with the understanding that the museum committee is to repay the township for the shortfall over time.
“I feel that it’s still appropriate for us to front those funds to get the project going and then have as has been written in the report an agreed schedule of repayment” said Councillor Jennifer Dailloux.
“As we’ve said before if anybody can fundraise it’s the folks in Dorset” said Moffatt.
“I think we said at the very beginning that we were fairly shocked at the cost of this” she added. “Feels like we’re stuck.”
Council agreed to proceed with the project in its initial scope.