FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Hold-ups with supply chains and high prices are expected to exceed the new RCMP detachment’s original contingency fund before switches required to electrify the building arrive.

The building, originally slated to be finished in early 2022, is expected to take another year to complete. 

The switches BC Hydro requires to electrify the building are expected to arrive before next summer. This, should the plans proceed as they are expected to, will happen by June 30th, 2023. 

“This is exclusively about waiting for the switches,” chief administrative officer for the city, Milo MacDonald, said during the regular council meeting on June 13th. “So this isn’t a delay that’s attributable to hydro.”

“[BC Hydro] making some really vigorous attempts to get those. We haven’t got them yet. We’re kind of at the mercy of the supply chain on this one,” he said.

The electricity delay translates into an additional cost of $150,000 to $200,000 per month. 

These expenses keep the (metaphorical) lights on at the construction site and include security and maintenance, as well as ensuring that the contractors are available to finish work that depends on electricity to complete.

The project’s contingency reserve sits at $641,000. Additional challenges and cost increases are expected, however, and a negative contingency of $300,000 to $400,000 is projected by the end of the project in August 2023. 

These projections, however, all hang on receiving the switches BC Hydro needs to pipe electricity into the building by summer 2023. 

Though other issues may arise, city staff does not expect the negative balance in the contingency to exceed $500,000.

Rising prices for materials, labour, transportation and storage over the last two years due to inflation, supply chain issues, and COVID-19 restrictions also factored into the stretched timeline and contingency fund use. 

The city will, however, receive a $1.5 million grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a $100,000 BC Clean grant. Staff say these extra funds will more than offset the extra expense caused by the BC Hydro delay.

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.