Cost of Foot Patrol office triples


For the last three months, Foot Patrol has been operating out of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) boardroom and reception area on the second floor of the Fred Nichols Campus Centre. At the Oct. 28 WLUSU board of directors meeting, Foot Patrol co-ordinator Chandler Joliffe and vice president of student services at WLUSU Miranda Priestman presented a proposal of a new Foot Patrol office that would meet the needs of the service, which is to be completed by January for a $53,500 price tag — triple the original cost of the project.

This new proposal comes after the original construction failed to meet fire code. Initial plans were drafted by a designer who was not qualified to do a fire-rated assembly, and there was never an application made for a building permit. After the Fire Safety office spotted the issue with fire code complacency, construction was halted immediately.

Since then, an architect has been consulted to draft the second proposal which the board passed with eight in favour and two abstentianing at the Oct. 28 meeting. Director Jon Pryce, one of those who abstained, expressed his frustrations over the mishap.

“You have to trust management that they’re doing it right,” said Pryce. “The board is only responsible for monitoring whether things get done, whether they’re working within the law and that it’s ethical.”

WLUSU general manager Michael McMahon stated that WLUSU consulted the advice of experienced contractors before proceeding with construction without applying for building permits.

Gary Nower, assistant vice president of physical resources at WLU, clarified the issue of permits. “Whenever we do a project we get a building permit where it is required. In the case of the stairwell a permit was required, there wasn’t one originally when the plans were discussed,” he said. “It was picked up by our staff in the [physical resources] office, we knew it was required.”

McMahon also added as a clarification that it was not simply a WLUSU oversight to proceed without permits, but that it was a group decision between the university, contractors and WLUSU.

Pryce was frustrated at the lack of communication.

“[WLUSU] management comes to the board with a problem that’s caused by not looking at all of the angles properly, and then [makes] us have to be seen in public as approving something that is three times the price,” he said.

“It is frustrating, but it’s one of those things where it’s happened before, with the Terrace expansion.”

McMahon explained that management is pursuing recovery of the costs from the designer in addition to withholding funds.

“When it comes down to it, the designer will ask the same question: ‘Why did it go ahead without a permit?’ and the designer will also protect themselves by saying ‘I’m not qualified to do a fire-rated assembly, so you should have known my drawing was not a rated drawing’,” he said. “We’re certainly going to lose a relationship over it, if we get some money back on top of that or we can reach a shared understanding that there’s a shared responsibility, that would be a bonus.”

Joliffe was simply relieved to see some progress towards a new office for Foot Patrol. “This time around a lot more consultation was brought in from [us] as compared to the original proposal, and is more suited to what we actually need,” he said. “The original space design was a little too small to meet our storage needs as well as our growing volunteer capacity.”

Foot Patrol will launch the service from the new office in January once the project is completed, but will continue to operate out of the WLUSU boardroom until then.

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