Inflation could drive up Place Bell price tag

By Geneviève April

During the Jan 13 city council meeting, Mayor Marc Demers hinted that Place Bell could cost more than its planned $120 million. The news of a prospective price increase in costs annoyed—or downright angered—many Laval citizens, who are jaded at best about the arena-building project.

“The interpretation relayed by a Laval reporter might not have been totally right,” explained the mayor’s spokesperson François Brochu. “What [the mayor] meant was that since the available estimates were calculated more than two years ago, it is reasonable to think that they are not accurate anymore, if only because of the simple fact of inflation, which could translate into an increase of the total cost.”

Brochu suggested that reports that the project is over budget were overblown, and that one should not conclude that the price of the project is spiralling upward out of control.

“The Demers administration will do everything in its power to keep a tight lid on the project, and obtain the work and services associated with it at the best prices possible.”

Since the contractors concerned have until March to tender their bids, only estimates are currently available. The true costs associated with Place Bell construction won’t be known until spring, when the bid envelopes are opened.

The high-profile and often-controversial project has undergone many changes since it was first mooted by the Vaillancourt administration as the Sports and Culture Complex in 2009.

Mayor Demers’ political party, Mouvement lavallois (ML) had opposed the whole project from the outset, and called for two complexes to be built, one at either end of Highway 440. ML estimated that this would contain cost of constructing eight ice rinks $40-55 million. ML also criticized the lack of transparency and consultation that surrounded the project.

“The main problem was that no information on the project was available from the preceding administration,” said Brochu. “Now that we have all the information, we see it for what it is: an exciting project. Plus this project doesn’t preclude undertaking others: $8.8 million has been set sir in the 2014 budget to renovate, update and maintain the St. François and Samson arenas.

The project was originally pegged at $92 million, partly offset by with money from the federal and provincial governments as well as private partners. It was to be built on Carré Laval and completed by December 2012.

In January 2012, the Harper administration announced that the federal government would not put a penny into the project, but the Vaillancourt administration nonetheless proceeded with the project, which had already seen many design, location, partners and price revisions, which had by then soared to $120 million—a figure that the city stood by until last Monday.
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