The United Counties of Prescott and Russell council (UCPR) voted, during its November 13 committee of the whole session, to go with Option 2 instead of the basic design for the new Prescott-Russell Residence, when construction begins on the project next year. A few members of UCPR council expressed concern about the need for three budget scenarios for the project when consultant Andrew Rodrigues of Colliers International presented an update on the project.
“We haven’t got the project (construction) started yet,” said Mayor Guy Desjardins of Clarence-Rockland, “and you’re already telling us we’re going to need more money? You were given a budget by the counties. Why can’t you go by the budget?”
The UCPR hired Colliers as project manager for the new PR Residence project. Rodrigues summarized the company’s work so far on the project, including dealing with provincial government officials over guarantees of funding support for the project.
Rodriguez noted that the project must meet specific provincial standards for minimum acceptable room sizes for senior tenants at the new retirement home, building safety, and other concerns. Colliers has also been working with an advisory committee, which the UCPR set for the project, and has tried to determine what the cost would be to include some of the committee’s recommendations in the overall building design.
How much for the project?
Total cost for the project is more than $75 million for a 224-bed facility, but the provincial government will cover about 30 per cent of the total project construction cost. The UCPR plans to finance its share of the project through an Infrastructure Ontario loan, over a 25-year period.
The base case annual budget scenario for the UCPR, for paying back the loan, is about $7.4 million each year. If some or all of the committee’s suggestions became part of the final project design, it would mean an extra $3.5 million to $5 million added to the total project cost. That would push up the UCPR’s annual loan repayment plan to between $8 million and about $8.1 million over 25 years.
Both Rodrigues and UCPR Chief Administrator Stéphane Parisien emphasized that council has the final say about whether to stick with the base case project cost scenario, or to agree to either Option 1 or Option 2, which would include some or all of the advisory committee’s design recommendations.
“This is not a slash-and-burn (plan) done by the design committee,” said Rodrigues. “This is a long, detailed process where we had a first estimate, then a second, and now a third,” added Parisien. “Now we need council’s direction whether or not to go with a fourth estimate.”
Parisien also noted that the new Residence facility will have a working lifespan of at least four decades. Allowing for a little extra expense now, he observed, for the comfort and benefit of the facility’s residents, could mean not having to deal with potential expensive renovations in the future. “We are making a decision here that will last for 40 years,” he said.
Mayor Pierre Leroux of Russell Township noted that the UCPR is already committed to financing the project at the base case level. He urged council to accept the Option 2 scenario, which includes all the advisory committee’s suggestions, because “it is not even a one per cent increase to our budget.”
Council approved Mayor Leroux’s recommendation. UCPR administration will provide council with more detailed information on the option and its impact, when the subject comes back to council for final review and decision at its November 27 session.