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Proposed garden at Maffeo Sutton Park goes $186,000 over budget

City of Nanaimo’s finance and audit committee recommends funding the shortfall
Drawings of the layout of a Rotary Centennial Garden at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Victoria Drakeford/City of Nanaimo image)

A planned peace garden project at Maffeo Sutton Park is going to cost nearly $200,000 more than expected.

Last year, councillors approved the Rotary Centennial Garden project, a planned peace garden located in the northeast corner of Maffeo Sutton Park. The garden is a legacy project for Rotary’s coming 100th anniversary in May.

The project is being managed by city staff. The Rotary Club of Nanaimo has committed $200,000 toward the project, which is intended to be completed in time for the service club’s upcoming 100th anniversary in May.

But on Feb. 19, the city’s finance and audit committee unanimously recommended that council provide $186,000 with the money coming from the city’s strategic infrastructure reserve fund.

The move comes after a recent staff report indicated that the project is under budget by $186,120 after the city received six bids on the project and that the lowest “acceptable” bid was $287,000.

According to that report, of the $200,000 committed by the Rotary Club, the organization spent $65,770 on engineering and architectural for work and then cut the city a cheque for the remaining $134,230.

As result, the lowest available bid of $287,000 exceeds the city’s available funds by $152,770 according to the report, which notes that in addition to the shortfall, an additional $19,000 is required for on-site work and another $14,350 is needed to “compensate the bidder due to delays” in awarding the contract.

Should the funding increase be approved, the project is expected to be completed by its original May deadline.

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During the Feb. 19 meeting, Richard Harding, the city’s general manager of parks and recreation, said the Rotary Club has “fulfilled” its financial obligations, but has no more money available to fund the project. He also said staff support funding the project and that if it is funded, the garden would be constructed at the same time as the nearby playground receives upgrades.

“Staff believe it is a good project,” Harding said. “It will tie into the redevelopment at the same time as the playground, so the disruption to the park users there, we hope, will be once and not a number of times.”

There were some questions from councillors about the project, such as whether other amenities like public washrooms had been considered and why the project’s cost increased.

“We often see projects come in over budget, but this was almost double [what was] anticipated,” Coun. Erin Hemmens said.

Harding explained that the project is more complicated than one might think.

“It’s a unique project, there are some elements to it with the lighting … and such,” he said. “Not to pick on engineering, but it is not a typical road or pipe that goes in so there are some extra costs that came with the designs.”

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the project is a “wonderful enhancement” to Maffeo Sutton Park.

The recommended budget increase will be on the agenda at an upcoming regular council meeting. 
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