9,000 sq. ft. change a “mistake” or “improvement”?

Pelham Councillor calls on architect to explain how design discrepancy occurred


In response to Pelham CAO Darren Ottaway’s report to Council at the May 1 Committee of the Whole meeting, Councillor Marvin Junkin brought up one of the public’s main concerns raised during the Town’s recent “Evening with the Experts” — the additional 9,000 square-feet needed to improve the functionality of the new Community Centre. Expressing his frustration with the need to alter the approved design by Petroff Architects and the public’s perception that the Town was responsible for what he believes was a mistake by Petroff, Junkin explained why this issue has been stuck in his craw.

“In April [2016], we voted on this building and passed it at $36.2 million, and just four short months later we found out that they made a 9,000-square-feet mistake, that luckily was caught by Ball Construction,” he said.

“God knows what kind of a mess we would have ended up with if it hadn’t been for Ball Construction finding this. So here we have a company that we paid $1.8 million over two years to design a facility and they make a mistake this big.”

“I’m not sure it was a mistake, Councillor,” interjected Mayor Augustyn.

“If they designed something too small that isn’t going to be of any use, I would think it was a mistake,” replied Junkin.

Junkin maintains the Town should not have to bear responsibility for the alterations made to the Centre’s design simply to make it functional. From his perspective, Petroff Architects should have designed the space appropriately from the start. Junkin proposed that Council draft a letter to the architectural firm requesting an explanation as to why they failed to recognize the need for the additional space in the original plans.

“I don’t know how you can say it was not a mistake when if we would have built it [according to the original plans], we would have regretted it,” stated Junkin.

“I’m not blaming anyone here, I’m just saying we paid those guys $1.8 million, and supposedly they’re experts, then we end up looking like we’re a bunch of yokels.”

The Mayor along with CAO Ottaway and a few other members of Council disagreed with Junkin. Councillor Richard Rybiak went so far as to characterize the sudden need for the additional square footage as an “improvement.”

Speaking to this point, Councillor Gary Accursi asserted that the decision to add 9,000 square feet to the facility was not a mistake. Instead, he sees it as an example of good oversight on behalf of Ball Construction. He thinks Ball Construction and Petroff Architects have been doing a good job of looking after the Town’s best interests. As someone who says he has overseen several construction projects, and as a member of the Community Centre Oversight Committee, Accursi said the plans will continue to be refined as construction proceeds. For example, he said that a wall appearing in one place on the plans could be moved or altered to improve the functionality of the space.

“As we move into a new section, those plans that are major in scope are now starting to be looked at with a microscope,” he said.

“They become refined because you start to look at them with a much narrower scope. That’s a very normal process when you undertake a build of 145,000 square feet. It’s not going to cost the Town any more money. There have been no warts added to the building.”

After the meeting, Junkin reiterated that he did not understand why the rest of Council didn’t consider the Petroff design inadequate. Ultimately, whether the additional 9,000 square feet was a necessary improvement or a costly mistake will not come out in the wash until the project is complete and the final invoice is received.

“I look at this whole Community Centre as a horse race, said Junkin.

“If it was indeed a horse race I’d be pretty concerned that this thing stumbled right at the start and we still have the whole race to go. But if the race ends up and the horse wins and I get my money back, then I’m happy.”

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