With its initial round of construction bids coming in well over budget, the city is re-tendering a 14-unit affordable seniors housing complex proposed to be built at 1310 Sparks St.
Budgeted by city council at approximately $6.3 million (plus a contingency topping it up to $7.3 million), the lowest of three bids came in at $8.7 million, courtesy of Capital Construction (2007) Inc., based in Copper Cliff.
This was followed by a $9.4-million bid from Aurora-based Matheson Constructors Limited and a $10-million bid from Mississauga-based EllisDon Corporation.
“In order to proceed with the project as designed, an increase of the project budget from $7.3 million to at least $9.2 million plus contingencies would be required,” according to a report by city director of housing operations Barb Dubois city council will discuss on Sept. 13.
To blame for the jump in price, whose original budget was $5.5 million before it was adjusted earlier this year, are “general market conditions, wood and plastic material costs, thermal and mechanical systems costs,” according to Dubois’ report.
“The current inflation rates are extraordinary – the highest in close to 40 years per Statistics Canada projected 2022 inflation rate for non-residential construction costs based on second-quarter 2022 statistics.”
As such, staff has decided to cancel the tender and proceed with a less expensive modular build which carries an anticipated completion date of the end of 2023. The building was originally anticipated to open by now.
Despite shifting to a modular build, the city still anticipates reaching a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation target of 31 to 41 per cent reduction in operating energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. An Energy Efficient Modular Design Build remains realistic within the current approved budget, including the contingency.
This isn’t the only affordable housing complex being constructed as a modular build, which the 38-unit housing complex by the not-for-profit Sudbury Peace Tower Housing Inc. is also using. It is anticipated to break ground this year and its one-bedroom units will open to residents by next summer. The 14-units Sparks Street building will also consist of one-bedroom units.
Of the city’s wait list for affordable housing, approximately 72 per cent of applicants are waiting for one-bedroom units. Since only 40 per cent of the city’s community housing stock is made up of one-bedroom units, builds such as these are in high demand.
The direction to focus on seniors housing for the Sparks Street build came out of the community consultation process, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann told Sudbury.com this week.
“This is wonderful,” she said of the project. “It will meet the needs of the residents in the area.”
In the midst of a wave of material cost hikes, she described modular builds as “the way of the future.”
The builds are often largely constructed off-site at a central warehouse location and assembled at the property where ground preparation work has already taken place, which speeds up the construction process.
“It goes up in a timely fashion and people are happy with the results,” Landry-Altmann said of the process, adding that although re-tendering will delay the building’s opening by a year, it was necessary to get the project done while following the budget city council has already approved.
Dubois’ report on the Sparks Street project is on the agenda for city council’s Sept. 13 meeting. Assuming a city councillor doesn’t put forward a successful motion to the contrary, the project’s re-tendering is slated to automatically progress as described in the report.
Various municipal projects have come in over-budget in recent months, including a $14.4-million transitional housing complex originally budgeted to include a $10-million upset limit, the $98.5-million Junction East Cultural Hub originally budgeted at $46.5 million (though it also changed in scope), and the $215-million Kingsway Entertainment District municipal arena/events space, which city council originally budgeted at $100 million and ended up backing out of due to its ballooning cost.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.