G.P. Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools

Vancouver Island school upgrade $1.4 million over budget and no one noticed

The original construction budget was not adjusted to account for some expenses

Following the completion of the Georges P. Vanier seismic upgrades in October, the school district determined they had gone approximately $1,450,000 over budget.

The $33.1 million upgrade project started in 2016 and was completed in phases, including adding additional classrooms, specialized spaces such as a new auditorium and an Aboriginal education room, and relocating the library. The project also included upgrading the school’s mechanical and electrical systems that were nearly 50-years-old. Approximately $32.8 million for the project was provided by the Ministry of Education and around $1 million was from the school district.

According to SD71 secretary-treasurer Nicole Bittante, the school district did not realize they were over budget until the project was completed as they thought all expenditures had been accounted for.

“While this overspend was not identified until the project was completed, it was thought all along that the budget allowed for these expenditures,” said Bittante. “District staff were reconciling all of their amounts to the original budget. In the meantime, the original budget hadn’t been adjusted for various items. So it appeared during the term of the project that the project was on schedule and on budget.”

Bittante outlined the areas where the overspending happened, with the most significant portion being the GST.

“The original construction budget back in 2015 that was provided to the construction company did not include GST, however, the budget should have included the non-rebatable portion of GST,” she said. “There’s a portion that the district pays and then receives back in a rebate.”

The non-rebatable portion of GST was a cost to the district of approximately $477,000.

Other areas where there was overspending included a portion of the director of operations’ salary and some wages for a custodian which were not reduced from the construction budget, totaling $196,000.

In 2017, the gymnasium walls required repairs due to a safety concern, and while the Ministry provided $220,000 to address the issue, the fix still went $117,000 over budget.

The costs for the initial project planning, totaling approximately $152,000, were also not removed from the construction budget. Another $40,000 was listed as “other balancing factors,” and the project went an additional $465,000 over budget as this amount was not covered by the risk reserve.

“The $33 million included a $4 million risk reserve. It wasn’t guaranteed funding, it was an amount that was awarded through the ministry, but it was an amount that we had to apply for and there were criteria attached to it,” said Bittante. “I think the issue is that we, in our budget, gave the $4 million to the construction company and it was spent.”

The school district was only able to access approximately $3.5 million of the $4 million with the rest being a cost to the district.

Bittante clarified that the overspending was not a reflection of the contractor as they came in on budget. Their budget just should have been smaller.

“They came in on target with money that they were given, but we weren’t able to access all the funds.”

She adds that increased oversight will occur on all future capital projects to ensure any overspending is identified and taken care of immediately.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the SD71 school board voted in favour of transferring $1,450,000 of unrestricted operating surplus to cover the overspend.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Village Way and Highway 19A roundabout is the Town of Qualicum Beach priority for a grant application. (Google Map)
Qualicum Beach council favours roundabout over turf field project

Mayor believes road project has better chance of landing grant

Curling season is over at the Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville and Qualicum Beach curling clubs forced to end season

Restrictions impact financial sustainability of both operations

(PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: No public attendance or participation for Jan. 18 Parksville council meeting

Citizens can still offer feedback via email, telephone or written submissions

Town of Qualicum Beach council will charge the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society for power and heat for the historic lodge. (PQB News file photo)
Society to pay electric bills for historic St. Andrews Lodge in Qualicum Beach

Group will not have access to building until lease is formally signed

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits Nanoose Bay property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read