The price tag for Springwater Township's new community hub just north of Barrie has been pegged at $120 million.
That would be today’s estimated cost to build the township's multi-building, multi-use facility on a 20-hectare (50-acre) plot of land on the northwest corner of Bayfield Street and Snow Valley Road in the Midhurst area, according to Shane Morgan of Weston Consulting, the firm responsible for creating the project's master plan.
The land, purchased by the municipality for $3.88 million in November 2020, will also be home to a new fire station and a Simcoe County paramedic station.
Morgan shared current cost projections as part of a community hub update presentation to township council on Wednesday night.
Morgan said the project's first phase, which includes an aquatics centre, a library and a gymnasium, is expected to cost about $80 million. Phase two, which includes a double rink arena, is estimated to cost between $37 million and $39 million.
The actual cost, though, will depend on a wide number of variables that are still in the discussion stage, he said. Many factors, including how long it takes to reach a final design, how long it takes to approve and what materials will be used, could affect the final construction costs, Morgan added.
The initial design process has been slower than some councillors expected.
“I’m a little bit disappointed it took this long,” said Coun. Phil Fisher. “We’re looking at seven months to arrive at this point and I’d hoped we’d be further along.”
Fisher was referring to the May 8 council meeting where Weston Consulting provided an overview/introduction of the project to council. Included in that presentation was a timeline that included an April/May target date to finalize options and present to council.
“I do acknowledge that it was not an overly quick return to council,” said Morgan, adding there was “a lot of back-and-forth" between his firm and township staff on various points and a lot of research.
"We were hoping to get here sooner," he added.
Coun. Matt Garwood agreed with Fisher that the process is taking too long. He was also concerned with the cost and a lack of detail this far into the process.
“I look at the $80 million associated with phase one, and from what I’ve heard around the phase two piece, it's somewhere around $35 to $38 million on top of an $80-million project, and that’s today, not 10 years from now,” Garwood said.
Garwood said he’s concerned the costs will escalate and, at this point, council has no definitive idea about what the project will look like, whether it will be bricks-and-mortar, metal, wood or any other material.
Morgan explained he was not in a position to provide council with some of the more detailed information they were seeking, because those decisions will be made later when the architects and engineers come on board with the project.
“Our scope goes up until the final master plan design,” Morgan said. “A separate scope will have to be released for architects to get into the very, very detailed elements of materials.
"We are going to be providing the general design that we have here, with some internal areas and layouts and wall placements and things of that nature, but the final detailed design will be coming in a separate package from a different consultant," he added.
When that package will come forward is still unknown.
In January 2022, the community hub master plan contract was awarded to Weston Consulting for $183,000. So far, the township has spent about $40,000 in consulting fees, said Jas Rattigan, the townhip's director of finance.
According to Springwater chief administrative officer Jeff Schmidt, the costs thus far are not being passed on to township residents.
He said one of the developers from the Midhurst Landowners Group — 1757704 Ontario Inc. — approached township staff in early 2022 and offered to make a contribution to the initial development of the community hub project.
The developer contributed $540,000, which will be applied to the costs incurred by the township for the design, visioning and working drawings for the community hub.
And while that may be good news for residents, according to Coun. Brad Thompson, better news would be a firm timeline on when things are supposed to get done.
“I’d like this project to move forward sooner than later,” Thompson said. “I would also like any future asks of the consultant that an actual timeline be put on them and have them commit to it.”
Council has requested Weston Consulting come back with more detailed information by the end of January 2024.
Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com