G.P. Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools

G.P. Vanier upgrades more than $1.4 million over budget

The original construction budget was not adjusted to account for some expenses

Following the completion of the Georges P. Vanier seismic upgrades in October, the school district determined they had gone approximately $1,450,000 over budget.

The $33.1 million upgrade project started in 2016 and was completed in phases, including adding additional classrooms, specialized spaces such as a new auditorium and an Aboriginal education room, and relocating the library. The project also included upgrading the school’s mechanical and electrical systems that were nearly 50-years-old. Approximately $32.8 million for the project was provided by the Ministry of Education and around $1 million was from the school district.

According to SD71 secretary-treasurer Nicole Bittante, the school district did not realize they were over budget until the project was completed as they thought all expenditures had been accounted for.

“While this overspend was not identified until the project was completed, it was thought all along that the budget allowed for these expenditures,” said Bittante. “District staff were reconciling all of their amounts to the original budget. In the meantime, the original budget hadn’t been adjusted for various items. So it appeared during the term of the project that the project was on schedule and on budget.”

Bittante outlined the areas where the overspending happened, with the most significant portion being the GST.

“The original construction budget back in 2015 that was provided to the construction company did not include GST, however, the budget should have included the non-rebatable portion of GST,” she said. “There’s a portion that the district pays and then receives back in a rebate.”

The non-rebatable portion of GST was a cost to the district of approximately $477,000.

Other areas where there was overspending included a portion of the director of operations’ salary and some wages for a custodian which were not reduced from the construction budget, totaling $196,000.

In 2017, the gymnasium walls required repairs due to a safety concern, and while the Ministry provided $220,000 to address the issue, the fix still went $117,000 over budget.

The costs for the initial project planning, totaling approximately $152,000, were also not removed from the construction budget. Another $40,000 was listed as “other balancing factors,” and the project went an additional $465,000 over budget as this amount was not covered by the risk reserve.

“The $33 million included a $4 million risk reserve. It wasn’t guaranteed funding, it was an amount that was awarded through the ministry, but it was an amount that we had to apply for and there were criteria attached to it,” said Bittante. “I think the issue is that we, in our budget, gave the $4 million to the construction company and it was spent.”

The school district was only able to access approximately $3.5 million of the $4 million with the rest being a cost to the district.

Bittante clarified that the overspending was not a reflection of the contractor as they came in on budget. Their budget just should have been smaller.

“They came in on target with money that they were given, but we weren’t able to access all the funds.”

She adds that increased oversight will occur on all future capital projects to ensure any overspending is identified and taken care of immediately.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the SD71 school board voted in favour of transferring $1,450,000 of unrestricted operating surplus to cover the overspend.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local cat rescue organization hit by camera theft

“Someone is taking from an organization trying to help cats who are surviving in the wild.”

Fundraising conference, concert on deck for Comox Valley Transition Society

Women Who Inspire Conference and Concert at Filberg Centre March 1

Changes recommended for four Comox Valley schools to ease capacity

Possible measures include cross-boundary transfer closures, modular buildings

North Island College students serving up food and wine at 40 Knots

North Island College tourism and hospitality and culinary students teaming up with… Continue reading

MARS Wildlife Rescue gets help from local children

The new Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) visitor centre in Merville has… Continue reading

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Comox Valley Beefs & Bouquets for week of Feb. 18

More beefs to the tip-expecting server; a bouquet to BC Transit

Galchenyuk nets shootout winner as Wild edge Canucks 4-3

Vancouver tied with Calgary for second spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Original Victoria Clipper vessel sails one last time

Vessel sold to buyers in Gabon, Central Africa

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

Two new hybrid BC Ferries ships christened with new names in Victoria ceremony

Island Aurora and Island Discovery will service Gulf Island and North Island routes

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

Most Read