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Council has concerns over plans to build police station

Lacombe City council has some misgivings over administration’s proposed plan to design and construct the new facility
Some misgivings expressed over proposed plan

Lacombe City council has some misgivings over administration’s proposed plan to design and construct the new facility for Lacombe Police Service.

It’s not building a new police station that concerns council, but how administration has planned to go about doing it.

At a regular meeting on Feb. 23rd, Norma MacQuarrie, chief administrative officer for the City of Lacombe, said that the City would be using a design/build team to both plan and construct the new police facility.

This is contrary to the usual method of design and construction the City has used, where an architect first draws plans for the building, and then a separate entity is contracted to build the facility according to those plans afterward.

MacQuarrie said that a design/build approach will offer collaboration between the building and planning phases which should ensure that plans for the building not only work out on paper, but make sense after construction as well.

It will also mean that the plans of the building will not be fully complete before construction begins on the facility, said MacQuarrie.

She added that the design/build method should also realize a cost savings for the project as well.

However, Councillor Peter Bouwsema did not think that was the best approach.

“I have some fairly serious concerns about this process.”

Bouwsema said that, as MacQuarrie noted in her presentation, police stations are facilities that are very specialized and require a great deal of experience to design and build.

He said he did not think the City would have any trouble finding a consultant with experience in such an area, but was not so sure the case would be the same with a builder to be involved in the design process.

Also, Bouwsema said he was somewhat skeptical that a design/build approach would end up saving the City money.

He said he would rather see the City follow the more common methodology of creating a facility requirements document, finding an experienced consulting firm and then having an open bid for the actual construction of the building once plans are drawn.

MacQuarrie said a facility requirements list will be created in conjunction with Owner’s Engineering who will have expertise in such projects. She added that, within Alberta, there are both contractors and consultants who have experience in building such police facilities and only those with experience would be invited in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to form the design/build team.

After listening to the discussion, Councillor Bill McQuesten said he agreed with Bouwsema.

McQuesten was leaning towards the argument that an institution such as a police station was too specialized to warrant collaboration between building and design as there was not room for such flexibility.

“I see a benefit of having a set design plan with the requirements and executing that way. I can’t see a huge benefit, if any, going to this new approach.”

MacQuarrie said that, while it is true aspects of the building will not have much flexibility in how they are built, the collaborative aspect will serve only to decide how best to accomplish such goals.

Councillor Reuben Konnik’s concerns were of a different kind.

He said that he was a bit surprised there was not a seat on the Police Facility Development Committee for an elected official.

Konnik said he was aware that councillors would likely not have much expertise to offer in the planning of the facility, but felt that someone from council should be part of the committee in order to represent the community and its sizeable investment.

“I personally would like to see one of us on this committee.”

As the plan was only being presented as information at the meeting, council voted to accept it as such despite misgivings.