Nanaimo Operations Centre Project
* The City is seeking elector approval to borrow funding for the first phase of the Nanaimo Operations Centre Project. An Alternative Approval Process (AAP) is being used to gather input from electors. The AAP starts on January 18, 2024 and concludes at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. AAPs are a provincially legislated process and are commonly used to seek elector approval for projects that are required to continue to provide core services. You can learn more about AAPs here.
To address the long-standing and increasingly unsustainable health, safety, environmental and operational shortcomings of the site in a fiscally responsible manner.
Our current Public Works and Parks yards are well past their usable lifespan, and no longer suitable to serve our growing community. The original Public Works buildings were constructed in the 1960's and then evolved as the City population grew from less than 45,000 in 1980. The City of Nanaimo
is now 100,000 people strong and growing.
The Nanaimo Operations Centre (NOC) is a large project, designed to create an operations centre that will potentially serve our city for the rest of the century. Plans for this facility are designed with functionality, efficiency, safety and sustainability
Phase One (currently in AAP for a maximum borrowing of $48.5 million):
- Foundational work including a new fleet maintenance facility, truck wash facilities and utility servicing for future phases of the NOC Project (max borrowing $40 million)
- Stormwater Management infrastructure at the yard and next door at Fire Rescue Station 2 (max borrowing $4.5 million)
- Fire Training Tower Fuel Conversion to convert the tower from burning wood for training scenarios, which is hazardous and environmentally poor, to an efficient gas system (max borrowing $1.25 million)
- New trail to complete the circular route of trails at Beban Park, in place of an otherwise necessary sidewalk spanning the length of the Public Works Yard (max borrowing $2.75 million)
Future phases include:
- Storage buildings
- Storage structures and outdoor spaces
- Heavy fleet equipment areas
- Administration building
- Staff parking
- Secondary entrance
- Fueling stations
- Stores and supply building renovations
1. Why is the work needed?
The original Public Works buildings were constructed in the 1960’s and then evolved as the City population grew from less than 45,000 in 1980 to over 100,000 in 2021. Much of the additional space was added using modular temporary facilities, like
construction trailers, which are not intended for permanent use.
The original buildings and additions have exceeded their useful life and it costs a considerable amount to sustain them. Additionally, the mechanic bays are too small to fit some fleet vehicles including fire and sanitation trucks.
have been made to accommodate the growing needs of the community by converting unsuitable spaces or adding additional trailer units to create more room to work. The overall result is a facility that struggles or fails to meet existing operational needs,
environmental regulations, as well as building code, accessibility, and gender equity considerations.
With the population of Nanaimo expected to be in the range of 126,000-141,000 in 25 years, there will be a substantial increase in the demand for services that cannot feasibly be met with the existing facility. The mission of this project is to address
the long-standing and increasingly unsustainable health, safety, environmental and operational shortcomings of the site, in a fiscally responsible manner.
2. Will the full amount be borrowed, or is the maximum including allowance for overages?
The intent is to only borrow what is required to complete this project. The maximum borrowing amounts noted include contingencies for inflation, unforeseen construction challenges, volatile market conditions, and other factors which have been included
to insulate the City from risk.
3. What is plan for Phase One of the NOC Project?
NOC Foundational Work
NOC Stormwater Management
Fire Training Tower Fuel Conversion
Beban Park Trail
|Allowance for Inflation||$5,800,000||$400,000||$150,000||$250,000|
* Project Delivery includes costs for design, insurance, third-party (hydro, telephone) utilities, permitting, etc.
- NOC Foundational Work - Maximum Borrowing of $40,000,000
Phase One establishes a new Fleet and Maintenance facility, truck wash facilities for use by the City's Operations fleet, and utility servicing which sets the stage for future phases of the NOC Project.
- NOC Stormwater Management - Maximum Borrowing of $4,500,000
Part of the required utility installation is intended to address existing deficiencies in the stormwater infrastructure at both the City's Public Works Yard and Fire Rescue Station 2. This will be accomplished by replacing failed infrastructure
at these sites and by constructing new facilities which will ensure the system's compliance with current environmental standards.
- Fire Training Tower Fuel Conversion - Maximum Borrowing of $1,250,000
This project element is intended to improve the environmental and health effects of operating the Fire Rescue Station 2 Training Tower (the Tower). The Tower is currently a Class A training system, which means that it uses wood products as fuel
to generate realistic fire and smoke during training exercises. While the Class A system provides an accurate portrayal of smoke and fire during training exercises, it also generates harmful gasses, offensive odours, and quantities of smoke
which can negatively affect both the personnel training and the surrounding community. Converting the tower to a Class B training system, which does not use wood, will greatly lessen the impacts of this facility on the surrounding community while also allowing our fire fighting personnel to participate in a wider variety of training scenarios.
- Beban Park Trail - Maximum Borrowing of $2,750,000
This work is proposed to be undertaken in lieu of works and services, nominally consisting of a sidewalk, along the Public Works Yard frontage on Labieux Road as part of the NOC Project. The trail will complete a circular route of trails through
Beban Park, integrating existing park facilities with the goal of enhancing the level of accessibility for these facilities without impacting the space already allocated to them. This trail extension along the Labieux Road border of the park
was the most requested park improvement during the public consultation conducted for the Beban Park Master Plan.
4. What and when is Phase Two?
Future phases of the NOC Project are preliminarily anticipated to move into detailed design in 2027/2028. The content of these future phases are not yet finalized and may change depending on the City’s operational needs.
You can read more about the anticipated timing of this and other projects in the Large Capital Projects Overview report that was presented on March 29, 2023,
and you can learn more about each element of the Nanaimo Operations Centre project in the Master Plan,
as well as what is included in each phase in the Phased Master Plan Amendment.
Future phases of the NOC Project that require borrowing will need consent of electors.
5. Why an AAP and not a Referendum?
The Province has guidelines for best practices on when to hold an AAP versus a Referendum (Assent Vote). When Council determined the process to be followed, they considered these best practices and took into account that an essential City service (for example, an RCMP station, an operations centre, a water treatment plan, or a fire station) are services that are required to continue to serve the community and are best done through an AAP. If it fails, the option is not closed and can go to a Referendum at that time. City amenities
such as an Event Centre or Waterfront Walkway may be better suited to a Referendum as they are a “nice to have” vs. “need to have”.
The cost to hold a Referendum is approximately $300,000. The difference between a Referendum and a General Election is that during the General Election we hold elections for the School Board Trustees so the School District pays 1/3 of the costs. There is
no cost-sharing with a Referendum and it is paid entirely by the taxpayers. Aside from the cost, it is the capacity. The entire Legislative Services Department (10 staff) have to put aside their regular duties, or work overtime to get
both duties done. Staffing, training and hiring over 200 workers to work at 12 locations, etc. is very straining on our resources.
DETAILED PROJECT INFORMATION
Nanaimo Operations Centre Overview
The potential NOC Project consists of:
- redevelopment of the Public Works Yard located at 2020 Labieux Road,
- upgrades to the adjacent Fire Training Tower operations,
- relocation of some Parks Operations,
- renovation of the Parks Prideaux Yard located at 89 Prideaux Street, and
- freeing up Nanaimo Annex site at 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road for other uses.
City operations are currently provided at the Public Works Yard on Labieux Road, the Parks Operations Yard on Prideaux Street and the Nanaimo Lakes Road Parks satellite yard.
The original Public
Works buildings were constructed in the 1960’s and then evolved as the City
population grew from less than 45,000 in 1980 to over 100,000 in 2021. Much of
the additional space was added using modular temporary facilities, not intended for permanent use. The original buildings and additions have exceeded their useful life and are costing a considerable amount to sustain them.
Public Works Yard 1960's:
Approximate Community Population 30,000
Approximate City Population 14,135
Public Works Yard 2023:
Approximate Community Population 107,000
The Public Works facilities have exceeded staff capacity and considerable efforts have been made to accommodate increasing needs by converting unsuitable spaces or adding additional trailer units to create working room. The overall result is
a facility that struggles or fails to meet existing operational needs, environmental regulations, as well as building code or accessibility and gender equity considerations.
With the population of Nanaimo expected to be in the range of 126,000-141,000 in 25 years, there will be a substantial increase in the demand for services that cannot feasibly be met with the existing facility.
The NOC Project has prepared a master plan for the property at 2020 Labieux Road to address these issues. A report and business case for this project was presented in 2021 to the Finance and Audit Committee and updates were provided to Council in 2022
and 2023. Based on feedback gathered during this planning process, a phased approach to this project was explored. Phasing enables standalone units of work addressing the most urgent operational challenges to proceed while allowing time to integrate
the City’s evolving financial and community priorities. NOC Phases One through Four focus on:
- Fleet and Maintenance Building
- Administration Building
- Repurposing the Prideaux Street Facility
The NOC Project, and the current focus on the development of its first phase, has been in progress for several years and many key decisions have been made to bring it to its current level of maturity. The NOC Project Phase One has now reached a point
where it is ready to proceed to detailed design and construction. However, before that can happen, a commitment to additional funding is required.
Maximum Borrowing Amount - Nanaimo Operations Centre Phase One
There are no feasible grant funding opportunities for a project like NOC Phase One, and it requires the City to undertake borrowing.
With large projects involving borrowing, it can be very difficult to adjust the budget later, which is why it is important to complete suitable due diligence prior to setting a budget. Recently, with global inflation and unpredictable pricing, there has
been an extra layer of difficulty in setting budgets. The development of the maximum borrowing amount has included the following:
- Detailed programming and forecasting for space needs.
- Preparation of an architectural concept focused on utilitarian needs.
- Creation of a risk register to assist with setting contingency amounts and the completion of due diligence such as environmental investigations to mitigate risk.
- A professional quantity surveyor preparation of a Class D construction cost estimate.
- Budget setting in accordance with the City’s project management framework and best practices.
The City will also complete a 'Value Engineering' review of the NOC Phase One Project, before proceeding with a detailed design. This will involve a full analysis of the planned Phase One facilities’ features, space allocations, systems,
and materials selections to ensure essential functions are being achieved at the lowest life cycle cost while also being consistent with the City’s required performance, quality, reliability, and safety criteria. In short, this will be another
level of due diligence undertaken to ensure the City is getting a quality facility that will meet its present and future needs while eliminating unnecessary costs.
The maximum borrowing amount for this project is $48,500,000. While this amount is not a guarantee, and there are unforeseeable factors that could influence future costs, it has been prepared with a well thought out plan and due diligence.
Borrowing of this magnitude requires consent of the electors, either through a referendum or an AAP. Given the criticality and non-discretionary nature of City operations, an AAP is the process the City is following. Staff are engaging with the community
throughout the AAP to build community knowledge about this important project and respond to questions and concerns that are raised along the way. Following a successful conclusion to the AAP in November, Staff will begin negotiations with
the design team for a contract to complete detailed design with the goal of starting design and permitting in 2024-2025 and construction in 2026-2027.
If you have any questions about the NOC Phase One Project, or would like more information, please contact us. We will be happy to chat with you about this project, the services our Parks Operations and Public Works teams bring to the community,
and how these improvements are crucial to ensure we can continue delivering those services to you.
By email: EngineeringInfo@nanaimo.ca
By mail: City of Nanaimo, Engineering Department, 455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo BC, V9R 5J6
By phone: 250-755-4460, Ext 4230