Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the long-delayed and overbudget F.H. Collins.
The government is ever-sensitive about the ever-escalating costs of this project, and it should be. Spending $6 million on a plan for a new school and then scrapping that design is expensive. Pretending that the plans for the new school are free and then paying a company from Alberta almost $1 million to change is also expensive.
The government is now trying to claim that renovations to the tech and trade wing are a separate project and that these costs shouldn’t be considered in replacing the school. The government knew that the tech and trade wing had to be upgraded, because the heat for the building comes from the existing F.H. Collins building which will be torn down. When you take away a building’s heating source, replacing it is part of the cost of finishing a project.
Will the minister admit that the renovations to the tech and trade wing should be considered part of the cost for rebuilding F.H. Collins school?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. The government has been claiming, with a straight face, that the F.H. Collins project is on time and on budget. The Yukon Party government of the day promised the school would be open in August of 2013, and the original budget was supposed to be $25 million. That budget is now well over $50 million and the minister admitted last week that it is going to be even higher with changes coming to the tech and trades wing.
In 2013, I asked the government to consider putting the trades and tech wing in the new school. The minister said he was open to that idea at the time and that it was worth considering. A government that does good planning would have looked at it and would have looked at what the cost would have been to upgrade the trades wing and compared it to the cost of building it right into the new school. On Thursday, the minister admitted that the government doesn’t have any cost figures at all, and in fact we are only now assessing what work needs to be done to upgrade the trades wing.
Why was this work not done before the decision was made not to include the trades wing in the new construction?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier on the future of the Shakwak project. Since the 1970s, the United States government has, under the Shakwak project, been providing funding to upgrade the highways from Haines, Alaska, to Beaver Creek.
Over the years, the funding provided for construction has totalled over $400 million. This year’s budget is $15 million. The problem is the funding for the project for future years was cut off by the United States in 2012. Since then, the government has been lobbying unsuccessfully to have this funding reinstated and has also spent down what monies had been banked over the years. This reserve is now almost empty.
How confident is this government that funding will be restored?Read more
Whitehorse: Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says a high profile lobbying trip to Washington has produced no results on the Shakwak highway funding file. In March the Premier travelled to Washington in an attempt to have Shakwak funding re-instated after it was cut-off by the United States government in 2012.
“This government has been lobbying unsuccessfully to have this funding re-instated and it is also spending down what money had been banked over the years. This reserve is now almost empty,” said Silver. “This is bad news for our economy and our road-builders. Each summer, hundreds of Yukoners are employed because of this funding and it wasn’t that long ago that Yukon spent $25-30 million a year from Shakwak on our highways. This year it is only $15 million and getting smaller each year.”Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question about the new F.H. Collins Secondary School. When the government of Yukon decided to award the contract for construction of this school to an Alberta company, the minister said at that time — and I quote: “The final objective here was to tender a project that would create local jobs and promote economic activity.” Local companies told me at the time that they were quite worried with the decision to go with an outside contractor and that would probably result with very few local people getting hired. I did write the minister this fall to see if those concerns from those local companies had materialized.
Can the minister confirm that to date there have been only 29 Yukoners working on-site at the F.H. Collins replacement project?Read more
Mr. Silver: I also have a question for the minister responsible for Highways and Public Works. Last Friday, the minister managed to cancel a $14.5-million tender in the community of Teslin. This money was obviously set aside for the community’s main bridge. This is no small feat for this government. The budget hasn’t even been passed by this House and already one of the largest capital projects has been cancelled and thrown into Nisutlin Bay.
Can the minister explain to us: How did we get to this point?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the Dawson waste-water treatment project. Earlier this year, officials from the minister’s department put the operating cost to run this new facility at $340,000. People I’ve spoken to in Dawson think that this number might be a little bit unrealistic and don’t believe that the amount will even cover the fuel bill, let alone operations of the facility. The municipality of Dawson should not be left on the hook if the costs to operate this building are higher than expected.
If the bill does come in higher than $340,000, will the Government of Yukon cover this extra cost?Read more
Mr. Silver: All this week, I’ve been asking questions of this government’s poor planning on capital projects. Continuing with that theme, I have question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about an RFP issued by his department earlier this year for a business case analysis and pre-concept planning for a new continuing care facility.Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Public Works. All this week I’ve been asking about this government’s inability to manage capital projects and the resulting public money that is wasted when this occurs.
At the top of the list of poorly managed projects is the new F.H. Collins. Last week, for the first time, Yukoners were finally given the full cost of the newly-redesigned school. It is interesting that it was never actually mentioned in the Premier’s one-hour and 47-minute budget speech, but it was contained in the background information released by this government.
Will the minister confirm for the public record that the complete budget for the newly-redesigned F.H. Collins School is now $51 million?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about another construction project this government has recently announced. This one is the new Watson Lake district office for the Department of Environment.
When the project was tendered in December 2013, the advertised price of the construction contract was $1.4 million. Can the minister confirm that this contract has been awarded at $2.1 million, 50-percent more than the advertised price?Read more