Question re: Faro RCMP facility - May 3, 2016

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On April 20, 2015, the Government of Yukon put out a press release with the title, “Plans for a new Faro RCMP building move forward”. It said — and I quote: “The Government of Yukon is committing more than $3.5 million this year to construct a new RCMP facility in Faro… The project is now in the design phase, with construction expected to begin this summer.”

Construction did not start last summer as planned. This year, as we discuss this budget, there is only one dollar in the line item. Can the minister please explain the current status of this project?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I should note, in fact, is that the Yukon government had the foresight to allow for the possibility that the project could come in over its target cost but within the estimate. In fact, it was due to the federal government refusing to allow us to issue the tender last fall — that is the only reason that project did not proceed.

I’m also pleased to table a copy of the letter that I wrote to the federal minister, asking him to assist us in this and pointing out that the additional federal share was only $120,000 more than they were expecting to pay — but due to the federal government either being unwilling or unable to approve that, they prevented us from issuing the tender last December.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate that answer from the minister. What we are hearing is — just for the members’ sake and for the Legislative Assembly, it was supposed to come in under $4 million, and the low bid was $5.5 million. We are hearing from the minister that it’s now Ottawa that is saying not to build this.

I guess the tender is cancelled, but the question is: Is the government still committed to moving ahead on this project regardless of what Ottawa tells them?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I would have noted if I had had more time in my first response is that, in fact, that project is now proceeding. The RCMP is doing that, and that relates to the RCMP having a higher budget authority that did not require them to go back to Treasury Board for this project. I will again table my letter to Minister Goodale noting that the lowest bid came in slightly over the approved envelope with the federal share being an extra $120,000: “We are being told by officials that we need to wait 4-6 months while RCMP seek Treasury Board approval for the additional $120,000 before moving forward with this project. I am writing you now to seek your agreement to proceed with the current Government of Yukon procurement process, and allow us to move forward with the award of the contract to the lowest bidder.”

Again, I will happily table a copy of that letter. I would also like to acknowledge and thank our Member of Parliament, who I did call and who did approach Minister Goodale about this topic. Unfortunately, again, Minister Goodale was either unable or unwilling to assist us in having this project awarded last December.

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now I am confused as to whether it is last December or last fall that this government found out they could not proceed with the tender as the bids came in over cost. A new tender has not been released by the Government of Yukon — as far as I know — to date, and the building season is underway. I am assuming from the minister’s response here today in the Legislature that we will not see this project moving forward in this building season.

Can the minister please let us know what the new timeline for completion of this project is? What will be the new total costs for this project? What steps is this government taking — not the Ottawa government — to resolve this issue?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To clarify for the member, the tender for construction of this project closed on October 22; however, it was in late November, early December that we were informed by the RCMP at the national level that they were not in a position to allow this project to proceed and would not — because of the constraints placed on them by Treasury Board guidelines — be able to allow us to award the project in December. As soon as I was made aware of that, I wrote a letter to Minister Goodale, noting and acknowledging the fact that because of the date on which we had been informed of that by the RCMP nationally, it was a rather short turn-around time. The tender was due to be awarded December 11. Again, as I noted in my letter to Minister Goodale, which I will table for the member and for anyone else who would like to see it, I wrote to Mr. Goodale seeking agreement to proceed with the current Government of Yukon procurement process, but the minister was either unwilling or unable to assist in that regard.

I would note that this project itself — right now we are waiting for the finalization of this from the RCMP out of their national resources from E Division, which are assisting with the project and moving forward with it. We expect to be in a position to announce timelines very soon.