Work stoppage could delay Cedar school opening

NANAIMO – Trustees vote to temporarily halt work and award contracts for conversion work in Cedar.

The scheduled September opening of the new Cedar Elementary School could be affected by a 30-day moratorium on construction work, according to Nanaimo school district staff.

The Nanaimo school trustees approved a motion to temporarily halt construction and awarding of contracts for conversion work on the former secondary school at their regular board meeting Wednesday.

The vote was preceded by a presentation from school staff on the implications.

To date, playfield, steel-stud framing and plumbing work are either complete, or near completion, and the stoppage could result in a construction completion date of Aug. 31, as opposed to July 31, according to John Blain, Nanaimo school district’s deputy superintendent.

A mechanical tender will be put on hold and the delay could require construction work to take place in a tighter time frame.

There could be financial implications as well, Blain said.

“The district also has an energy manager agreement with B.C. Hydro and [it pays for] 50 per cent of the salaries within our district,” said Blain.

“Part of the agreement … is the strategic energy management plan and as long as we follow that plan, we receive in lieu of that monies for the salaries, so there’s money involved in it.”

Part of the Cedar project is tied to that energy plan and as that is delayed, it could mean the school district doesn’t meet performance in the plan, Blain said.

The school district is the general contractor for the project and labour is provided under a collective agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said Blain. The delay could have led to displacement of workers, so trustee Scott Kimler amended the motion to allow for necessary CUPE work to be done.

The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.36 million, with about $361,000 for the playing field coming from the school district local capital fund and $1 million each from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 annual facilities grants.

As of Dec. 10, all of the local capital fund money and about 55 per cent of the annual facilities grant money for 2014-15 has been spent.

Trustees Jamie Brennan and Bill Robinson voted against the motion.