On Monday, November 7, Airdrie's city council will be meeting to discuss a milestone in the new library and multi-use facility project, though this milestone will be about the possibility that the facility will cost $20 million more than previously expected. According to the city, council will be weighing the financial and social risks and benefits to make a decision on the best path forward.

"This will mean looking at not just this facility, but at all new infrastructure and facilities that Airdrie has on the horizon for the next 10 years including a new regional park, a new recreation centre, a new fire hall, road infrastructure projects and a lift station in the south part of the city. The increase in cost is due to the global trend of construction market escalation over the last 16 months."

Council has several avenues it may consider, which include adjusting the scope and capping the budget at $62 million, adjusting the scope and capping the budget at $68 million or postponing the project altogether until costs stabilize. 

If council were to cap the budget at its original estimate which was approved in October 2021, they would have to consider some reductions to the infrastructure, which may include reducing the size of the building by approximately 12,000 square feet, reducing the sustainability features, or reducing the landscaping features and outdoor amenities. Council may also look at modifying the size of the underground parkade by 60 stalls and redesigning the surface parking; however, all these options may be done exclusively or in tandem with one another.

However, if council were to go ahead with a larger budget, which would mean an increase in the project budget by 8 per cent to over $68 million, there would have to be a re-designing of the building to align with the new budget and there is are possible savings that could come from the same types of adjustments as enumerated in the capped budget options, though the space reduction would be approximately 9,000 square feet. The underground parkade would also be redesigned to accommodate approximately 120 parking stalls.

cityAirdrie's city council is weighing the financial risks of a possible budget increase in the new library and multi-use facility project. (Screenshot from The City of Airdrie)

"Council will consider the full spectrum of future borrowing needs for other projects in the community within the provincially mandated debt limits, the city’s current debt capacity and the potential tax impacts on Airdrie’s residents, as well as the construction costs. Council needs to keep in mind the costs to operate the facility on an ongoing basis."

The initial estimate to operate the new facility is in the range of $1.1 million to $1.3 million per year. The life expectancy of the new facility is 40-50 years. 

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