Community

City wins award for Japanese Cultural Centre renovations

Mayor Malcolm Brodie checks out the improvements to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. The city received a job order contracting award for the work, in which the city saved $36,409.  - Michael Mui photo
Mayor Malcolm Brodie checks out the improvements to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. The city received a job order contracting award for the work, in which the city saved $36,409.
— image credit: Michael Mui photo

Margie Hardy says it used to be impossible for her clients to meet when it snowed.

The path leading to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre was completely covered in gravel less than a year ago, and in Richmond’s snowy winter weather, it was a life-threatening hazard to the seniors who attend the wellness clinic she hosts monthly.

“Uneven surfaces are not good for seniors at the best of times,” said Hardy, a seniors’ co-ordinator in Steveston. “So we actually had to cancel a lot of seniors’ programs just for a tiny bit of ice or snow.”

But that’s all changed.

In a national first, the City of Richmond got in touch with U.S.-based Gordian Group’s job order contracting service last year to sign a three-year agreement. It began work on the culture centre in August. Since then, the service also won another 20 city contracts, worth just under $1.8 million. These services include installing new fire alarm systems at the Richmond Nature Park, replacing the floors and lighting at East Richmond Community Centre, and to Hardy’s delight—paving over the old gravel path in front of her cultural centre.

“That was something I’d been hoping for,” Hardy said. “Now that it’s paved...the snow melted away quicker.”

The Gordian Group honoured Richmond’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in its recent top seven Best of The Best project awards. The cultural centre was selected because its construction had some stringent requirements—the facility had to remain operational while the renovations were installed, had to be completed quickly to avoid heavy rain and snowfall, used local labour and materials, and had to save at least eight per cent of the overall construction costs.

With the original cost estimated at $200,519, Richmond ended up saving over 18 per cent and got to keep $36,409 in its pocketbook—additionally, the city received a BC Hydro rebate of $7,500 for installing energy-efficient lighting. The procurement time for supplies and labour was also trimmed down from four to six months to 30 days.

“It saves so much time and resources,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who took a tour of the facility Thursday.

The job order contracting program includes a database of local manufacturers, suppliers and labour. It cuts the costs by giving these companies a competitive bidding process where the lowest bidder wins. This was a way for the city to modernize its infrastructure at an affordable price. Brodie said that by 2013, the city will conduct a review to find out just how much the city saved.

However, it was due to plain luck that the city found this way to save money at all, said city maintenance planner Peter Jansen.

“I got this letter from a company talking about … job order contracting, I’d never heard of it and I didn’t think it was of any value—so I threw it in the garbage,” he laughed. But the thought remained in his mind after he got home that weekend.

“It just kind of stuck to my head,” he said. “So when I got back Monday, it was still sitting in my garbage can and it just had me thinking…so I began researching.”

Jansen couldn’t believe what he found.

“Everyone I had spoken to…none of them gave me a negative review on job order contracting,” Jansen said. “Literally, they told me you’d be crazy not to do it.”

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