Lewis construction unfolding in Courtenay — concern about process

The Lewis Centre addition and renovation project could be complete as early as fall 2013, according project manager Blair Pettis.

The Lewis Centre addition and renovation project could be complete as early as fall 2013, according project manager Blair Pettis.Pettis provided an update on the project to Courtenay council Monday, which included the estimated timeline with work beginning this summer.”We want to get the mechanical upgrade to the existing facility going this summer while we’re in the non-heating season,” said Pettis, adding that tenders for this portion of the project should go out this spring. He said these upgrades will be extensive and will increase the existing building’s energy efficiency by winter. In the fall, he expects work on the addition’s foundation to start before fall storms come, and from there things will really get rolling.”From the time we start foundations, I’m expecting 12 months (to project completion),” said Pettis. “Hopefully we can do better than that.”A schematic design is in progress with various layout options being considered. Lewis Centre staff are included in the process and user groups will be able to provide feedback.Pettis said the original plan for a two-storey addition was changed; now the addition will be one floor, making the project more economical by doing away with a need for an elevator that would have cost $110,000 to $120,000, and a need to replace the roof on the entire centre.Pettis stressed that all aspects of the project are planned with minimal disruption to service in mind. For example, the new wellness centre, which will have a weight room, and space for fitness testing and classes, among other things, will be finished before the current weight room is renovated. The same goes for two new locker rooms.However, he acknowledged that construction noise is unavoidable.Pettis and the architect team — Vic Davies Architects Ltd. — recommended a pure construction management (CM) process to speed up the project and because of its renovation nature, according to the report to council.City CAO Sandy Gray confirmed to the Record that Knappett Projects, a Victoria-based company, will be the CM. Knappett will be restricted from bidding on any other project tenders, and will provide advice, be responsible for site supervision, and coordinate all other sub-trades on the project, among other duties.According to Pettis, 20 plus different sub-trade tenders for individual jobs such as foundation, framing, finishing, drywall, painting, insulation and roofing.”There will be over $3 million worth of contracts to be tendered,” said Pettis. “All the trades, all our local people, will all get a chance to bid on that (project) eventually.”Alan Fletcher of AFC Contracting, who applied for the CM tender, objected to the CM-style process in this project.”It becomes just a huge co-ordinating nightmare,” said Fletcher. “There’s way better ways of dealing with that project.”Fletcher said projects of this size are normally given to one general contractor — a total project price is fixed during tendering — who then conducts their own tendering process for sub-trades.He is concerned this method will see gaps in work, less co-ordination between differing trades, and could end up costing taxpayers more, among other things.He held a breakfast meeting with other Comox Valley trades companies Thursday morning to discuss his concerns.However, City director of community services Randy Wiwchar said the City is sticking by the recommendations of Pettis and the architect team.”The architect team has done almost 100 recreation centres and many, many renovations and they are suggesting (the CM process) along with our project manager,” explained Wiwchar, adding that the City will oversee the 20-plus tenders to sub-trades, and the project is not being left in the hands of the project manager and architect team.”It’s going to be a fair, open, transparent process that everybody will have an opportunity to bid on, whatever number of tenders that go out,” said Wiwchar.Gray reiterated that part of the reason the CM was chosen was due to the complex nature of the project in that it’s a renovation and the City wants the centre to keep running throughout.At Monday’s meeting, Gray said local trades would not necessarily get the work, but the tenders “certainly should be to their advantage.”writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com