The New Westminster school district is working to make sure construction of the new Richard McBride Elementary School doesn’t run over budget.
Dave Crowe, director of capital projects, gave an update on the project at the school board’s operations committee meeting, held remotely via Webex on June 9. He told trustees the project budget – which is set at just shy of $35 million - has been flagged as “yellow,” meaning the district is taking corrective action with the contractor to find cost savings.
“It’s nothing urgent,” Crowe assured trustees.
He said the challenges surround the ongoing excavation work.
“Some of the soil conditions that we were dealing with are different than what we had anticipated, so it’s required us to change gears a little bit in the way we’re addressing the excavation,” he said.
As an example, he told trustees about 13 giant boulders – two metres in diameter – that were discovered during excavation work.
“Heaven knows how they ever got there, but they’re very, very large,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of those kind of things; those are unforeseen site conditions or issues that we wouldn’t have anticipated.”
On the scheduling front, Crowe had nothing but positive news to report.
He told trustees the McBride project has continued to benefit from the COVID-19 situation, in that the low numbers of students and reduced traffic around the school site have allowed the project to continue more quickly than it otherwise would have.
He said supply chain issues that have plagued the New Westminster Secondary School replacement and other construction projects haven’t really come into play at the McBride site because of the stage the work is at.
By the time the excavation is done, which is anticipated to be the end of August, he’s hopeful the supply chain question won’t be an issue anymore.
“We’re hoping that, by the time we get into the situation where we require different types of materials and products, we’ll be further down the path of this whole pandemic issue, and the supply chain will hopefully be returning back to a more normal situation,” he said. “We’re hoping we may have dodged it.”
The new school is expected to be ready for occupancy by mid-December 2021.
The school district has published a timeline of expected milestones for the McBride construction project. See image below.