March 16, 2009


The new Sports and Entertainment Centre in Abbotsford could be the new home of the NHL’s Calgary Flames’ farm team. The development is one of three projects the city bundled together to save on construction costs.

Project Procurement

City of Abbotsford, B.C. bundles projects to get them done

The City of Abbotsford is bringing on stream nearly $100 million in three new community facilities on time and budget – and getting much more facility than it ever imagined.

They managed it in a searing hot construction market after planning started three years ago.

The city bundled the projects, shed the fluff and shifted responsibility onto the design-build contractor.

Bruce Beck, chair of the Plan A steering committee for the three buildings and a retired councillor, said that after touring recreational facilities to see what was good and bad in design, it became evident that municipalities don’t have the experience to build buildings.

“We don’t do it regularly enough,” he said.

In a nutshell, the city knew what it wanted or thought we knew what we wanted, he said.

The shopping list included a quick turnaround as galloping material costs were ramping up costs monthly.

The city wanted to nail down construction costs and do it at three locations.

The three buildings included a cultural centre combined with a museum, a community recreation centre adjoining an existing facility and an arena that would double as a major sports and entertainment venue.

The city opted for a design-build process and on its requests for proposals gave construction companies the option of bidding each structure or all three in a bundle – the fourth proposal.

PCL Westcoast Constructors got the nod with a proposal that wrapped it all into a design-build bundle.

“It saved approximately $5 million,” said Beck, who today is pleased to see the work coming to an end.

The arena finishes in March with the grand opening in May.

The municipality, said Beck, also hired MHPM Project Managers Inc. as a link between the city and the design-builder Westcoast.

The move paid dividends.

“We worked hard on the project implementation plan (to meet deadlines),” said David Leeman, MHPM project manager.

Three key elements fixed costs and delivered it on time.

There were a strict adherence to schedules, careful monitoring of progress, and ensuring that the design builder had contingency plans in place.

Leeman said his company has managed quite a few design-build contracts in the last few years.

He said that a lot of companies, municipalities and owners are going to design build or construction management, hoping to fix costs.

The $10.8 million cultural centre came in $347,000 under budget.

It was only expected to include 4,000 square feet of exhibit space, but the design-build delivered 6,000 square feet. That extra space came from moving some of the utilities onto the roof.

The 59,000 square foot community recreation centre opened a month later, also coming in early and under budget, and increasing the original floor space in the building.

The new Entertainment and Sports Centre is also on budget, said Mark Taylor, director of Parks, Recreation and Culture for Abbotsford.

The centre is 175,475 square feet with a 60-foot elevation. The building has three levels: concourse, event, and suites level, while the centre is expected to draw in major league teams and events.

“We spent a lot on the entertainment side,” he said, adding that the facility offers staging for performers with items such as tie-downs, required to set up circus high-wire acts.

The only glitch that occurred during the construction, said Taylor, was the discovery of 7,000 cubic metres of contaminated dirt from a former sawmill on site.

“That cost $1.8 million to remove,” he said, adding that the material was only five meters from an underground aquifer and, over time, the material would have seeped into it, perhaps landing in creeks, streams and affecting wildlife and agricultural stock.

The municipality also did not attempt to have any of the three buildings LEED certified, but chose to build to a LEED silver standard on the recreation centre and cultural centre.

Beck said that instead the city saved the dollars for documentation and certi440fication and used it to obtain an improved building instead.

“Being green was more important than being certified green,” he said.

The environmental considerations for the ice in the arena made it cost-prohibitive to undertake a LEED silver equivalency in that larger structure, although green building practices have been used.

Beck said that the contractor benefitted by doing all three projects, both in terms of keeping crews in the area moving form one project to the next and also sharing expertise.

Three teams were assembled to handle each project, but they shared ideas and information.

PCL Westcoast’s Sandra Kwan, project manager for the recreation centre, agreed.

“Our three projects worked out of the same office trailer and shared a lot of resources,” she said.

The biggest challenge, she added, was the steep learning curve for the teams and the municipality as the design-build process was fast-tracked.

Kirk Schultz, project manager for the cultural centre, said that he saw the schedule as the biggest challenge.

“It was just the fast pace of construction – the whole thing (cultural centre) was built in a year,” he said, adding that careful pre-planning had to be carried out.

“There was a lot of co-ordination and consulting with the trades and building accordingly,” he said.

The cultural centre is a Class A facility meaning it can accommodate major international exhibits equal to that of the provincial museum.

The Sports and Entertainment Centre could be home to the Calgary Flames’ farm team. The AHL Quad City Flames could move into the new facility, but discussions are in the preliminary stages and no agreement has been reached.


Abbotsford Cultural Centre:

MHPM Project Manager Inc, PCL Constructors West Coast Inc., Hughes Condon Marler Architects, Toby Russell Buckwell and Partners, (design management) D. E. Jenson & Associates (exhibit design), Read Jones Christoffersen (structural design) and Stantec Consulting (mechanical and electrical). Cost $10.85 million, 20,000 square feet total. Features: sustainable features, storm water diverted to a swail, under-floor radiant heat, geothermal heating and cooling.

Abbotsford Community Centre:

MHPM Project Manager Inc., PCL Constructors West Coast Inc. (contractor), Hughes Condon Marler Architects, Read Jones Christoffersen (structural design), Stantec Consulting (mechanical and electrical). Cost $23.3 million.

Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre:

PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. undertook the design-build with MHPM Project Manager Inc. retained to do the project management; PBK Architects (design management), Cochrane Engineering (structural, mechanical and electrical design lead). Cost $66.2 million (land not included). Arena to be managed by Global Spectrum.

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