© — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
The RNC building in St. John's
The cost of redeveloping the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s home has increased by almost 20 per cent.
According to documents posted on the province’s website, the budget on the extensive renovations to Fort Townshend has ballooned from $48.3 million when it was announced in 2007 to $57.5 million as of April 9.
“Every project they have is a cost overrun,” Eddie Joyce, Liberal critic for Transportation and Works, said in reference to the provincial government.
The information was contained in an access to information request. The province started posting completed requests this week. The name of the person who asked for details about the RNC redevelopment is not provided.
“The project was originally envisioned to be completed in two phases, however later altered to three phases given the complex nature of the project,” the document states.
There is a separate cost and contract for each phase.
Besides construction, those costs include consultant fees, departmental management fees, furniture and equipment, and staff relocation.
Phase 1 has been completed, at a price tag of $5,220,700, more than a million higher than originally forecasted.
The second part of the construction is ongoing.
The total budget for that phase is $38.1 million, up from $34.1 million. About $32 million of the Phase 2 money is for construction, and $28.5 million of that has been spent.
The contract for the third and final phase of the redevelopment hasn’t been awarded.
The budget for that work is almost $14.2 million, $4.2 million higher than first estimated.
Joyce says this is the government’s latest overrun. He cites the renovations at Confederation Building as another.
“(It) started at $20 million and is now $48 (million),” he says.
Joyce suggests the government is either bad at planning or is not putting enough money aside before projects commence.
He contends the province doesn’t do proper analysis.
In an emailed statement, Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis said the redevelopment includes work on RNC headquarters as well as The Annex, the old Memorial University building that houses some RNC operations.
Originally, he explained, it was thought renovations on both buildings would be done at the same time, but that was later deemed impractical.
“As the project progressed and engineering details were refined, it was determined that more extensive work was required in some areas which did increase costs accordingly,” Davis said.
The revised budget, he said, allows for renovations to the buildings to occur consecutively.
“Such variances in cost and timelines are not uncommon for large renovation projects,” the minister said. “Projects of this magnitude usually extend over several years and project estimates are refined as work continues.”
Given the higher-than-predicted price tags on RNC headquarters and the Confederation Building, Joyce fears revisions will also be needed for the $7.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project.
He worries the overruns could be as high as $1.5 billion or $2 billion.
“People are going to pay for it,” Joyce says.
The RNC redevelopment was supposed to be done by December 2012.
The anticipated completion date is now September 2014.