No, Seriously! Police Headquarters Renos are Almost Done This Time!!

Over six years after it started, and over three years after it was supposed to be finished, construction is “almost complete” on the renovations to Guelph Police Service headquarters. With the publishing of the quarterly report on the Tier One Project Portfolio Status Update, the City of Guelph heralded how this controversial project in particular is “moving into close out” as a particular celebratory note.

“We’re pleased by the work that Perini, the contractor assigned by the bonding agent, did to address deficiencies and finish the project,” said Ken VanderWal, the project’s manager in a media statement. “We know the project took longer than expected; we learned a lot about the additional complexities when renovating an occupied building, and our rigorous project management processes allowed us to navigate a challenging situation to a successful outcome and a building we can be proud of.”

Pride in the building seems to have come at a steep cost. According to the Tier One report, the $34.11 million project is wrapping up now 6.8 per cent over budget, and by the time all the paint is dry it could be 8 per cent over budget. On top of that, Jasper Construction is taking the City of Guelph to court over their firing from the project in the summer of 2020, and they’re looking for a $7.14 million finding because they claim that the City asked for hundreds of changes to the project before refusing to pay and firing them.

Jasper was fired at the end of June 2020 ahead of the second quarter Tier One report. In March 2020, the City said that 97 per cent of the construction work was complete on the reno and that 96 per cent of the total budget has been spent. The City quoted warnings about “deficiency concerns” as the reason why Jasper was fired from the project, and subsequently the bonding agent brought in Perini Management less than a month later as the new project manager.

“Since the appointment of Perini, structural deficiencies have been addressed, and a final integrated testing of the fire safety systems has been completed,” read the information report written by Ania Orlowska, program manager of Corporate Asset and Project Management. “Occupancy has been granted for all remaining areas of the building.”

Orlowska also noted that, “This report concludes reporting on the Guelph Police Service Headquarters renovation project within Tier 1 Project Portfolio Status Update.”

Progress has actually been made rapidly on the project over the last couple of months. The fourth quarter report for 2021 showed that the project was 98 per cent complete and 1.6 per cent over budget, and the first quarter report from the end of March listed the renos as 99 per cent complete and 5.4 per cent over budget. Of course, the project was originally supposed to be complete in November 2019, and right up until the firing of Jasper, the City was saying it was on-time and on-budget.

“This situation is unfortunate; we would all prefer this important project be completed by now. But I believe in our project management processes and our staff’s ability to make good decisions for our community,” Mayor Cam Guthrie said in 2020 after Jasper’s firing. “That means that when we do finally cut the ribbon on this project, we’ll be doing so for a facility that we can all be proud of, and that will serve our community for years to come.”

At the same time, it seems like effects of the long delays in this project is something we will be living with for years to come. “The project will now move into the close-out, with maintained focus on final occupancy documentation and addressing remaining deficiencies and any warranty items,” said Orlowska. “Final accounting will be reported to Council once all financial matters are completed.”

Costs for the project were originally split between 45 per cent from development charges, and 55 per cent from the tax base.

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