Municipal leaders in Collingwood and New Tecumseth said they found it “shocking” that the lowest bid for the expansion of the Raymond A. Barker Water Treatment Plant came in at nearly double what they had planned, and could take two years longer to build.
The joint September statement issued by Collingwood Mayor Yvonne Hamlin and New Tecumseth Mayor Richard Norcross says they realize that the water and wastewater construction projects “have been hit hard” by ongoing supply shortages, increased construction costs, and shortages of skilled workers.
Still, the mayors were disappointed to likely miss their 2026 timeline for the plant’s expansion, while at the same time needing to come up with extra funding to meet a low bid that could ultimately cost in the range of $270 million. Just a year ago, the expansion estimate was $121 million.
“This is shocking news,” says a joint statement from the mayors. “When we received the estimates early last year, we knew they could change but did not expect increases of this magnitude. The global economy is still adjusting to a new post-pandemic reality.”
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This is not the first time the project’s cost has doubled. In spring of 2022, Collingwood council received an updated estimate from Town staff that raised costs from $65 million to $120.9 million to reflect the project’s changes in scope.
Phase one of the Collingwood water treatment plant’s expansion will increase capacity from 32,000 to 59,000 cubic metres per day. The design includes interim installation of UV disinfection; a new membrane and UV disinfection building; expansion of the high-lift pumping facilities; repurposing the existing membrane building for additional chlorination, administration and storage; and climate mitigation, including site and shoreline improvements.
Local officials say the expansion of the Raymond A. Barker Water Treatment Plant is integrally tied to the ability of the two communities to expand their populations. For more than two decades, Collingwood has piped water to a reservoir in New Tecumseth. The water-sharing agreement arose out of support for the construction of the sprawling Honda manufacturing plant expansion in Alliston, Ontario.
In 2021, Collingwood officials confirmed that the demand for drinking water exceeded the supply. This led to an Interim Control Bylaw that restricted development which did not already have a building permit, in part to conserve water.