Cornwall fire station construction costs soaring; training center not fully developed

A drawing by J.L. Richards from a Tuesday, May, 25, 2021 council meeting agenda shows the conceptual plan for a new Cornwall fire station at the corner of Tollgate Road West and Brookdale Avenue. The estimate to build the station is just shy of $10 million. (City of Cornwall via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A majority of Cornwall council is pressing ahead with building a new fire station in the city’s north end despite the escalating cost.

The facility to be built on the northwestern corner of Tollgate Road West and Brookdale Avenue – once estimated to be $8-9 million in January 2020 (which included the land) – now has a very rough cost estimate of $9.97 million. That doesn’t include the nearly $2 million the city has already spend on land and engineering, for a total between $12-13 million.

The so-called Class D estimate can be plus or minus 30 per cent.

One piece of the design that drew councillors’ concerns Tuesday night was the J.L. Richards design had the training facility roughed in but not fully developed. It had been touted last year as a big plus for the facility, allowing firefighters to not have to travel for training and also as a possible revenue generator.

CAO Maureen Adams explained the training aspect would be done in the future with a separate business case with buy-in from neighbouring municipalities as a regional training center.

But Couns. Justin Towndale and Eric Bergeron were not satisfied. Bergeron said the city should “hit the pause button” – a similar sentiment shared by Towndale.

While they didn’t like the price tag, others on council like Dean Hollingsworth, felt pausing would only cost the city more down the road, especially with the hyperinflation of costs for building materials in the construction industry. “The numbers aren’t working for me,” Hollingsworth said in reluctantly agreeing to proceed.

The final vote to approve J.L. Richards and city administration to put together a request for proposals (RFP) to build the new fire station was 9-2 with Couns. Towndale and Bergeron voting against the course of action.