FORT FRANCES—The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board passed a resolution Thursday night to accept a tender from a Dryden contractor to renovate the former Fort Frances Bingo Hall into a new ambulance garage.
Terra-Deco Enterprises Ltd. submitted the lowest bid for the work at $583,000.
Morley Reeve Gary Gamsby noted the contractors also were asked to suggest ways to reduce costs.
Some suggestions included not installing a roof overhang—a savings of about $2,000—and not installing a ventilation system in the vehicle area, which is not required (a further savings of about $35,000).
The board agreed to the changes, bringing the winning bid down to $546,000.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get something lower,” Reeve Gamsby said.
He also noted the doors of the building were not included in the tender. They will be tendered out separately.
This was the second time DSSAB has put the Fort Frances ambulance base project out for tender. Reeve Gamsby noted the bids came in quite high in the first round, with the lowest bid being $698,000.
“We cast our net a little further afield,” he said of the second round, which was by invitation.
Of the 12 packages sent out, only three were returned. The land ambulance committee the reviewed the three bids.
“We, as a committee, decided we would recommend to accept the Terra-Deco bid,” Reeve Gamsby said.
Fort Frances Coun. Tannis Drysdale noted the board had budgeted $350,000 for the renovation and asked how it would finance the difference.
Manager of Finance Leanne Eluik explained most of the cost would be covered by a sum of money set aside for cross-border billing in ambulance services.
The remainder would come from the severance reserve which won’t be needed.
Dan McCormick, manager of health services for DSSAB, said the province is looking at eliminating cross-border billing, freeing up the funds it had saved for that purpose.
Also at Thursday night’s meeting, DSSAB agreed to a two-year lease-to-purchase agreement with Dave Wilson for his property at 32 Florence St. in Emo to convert it into a new land ambulance garage.
In the meantime, DSSAB has an agreement with Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. to lease the existing ambulance garage in Emo until the renovations are completed on the new one.
The two have agreed to a three-month lease, with the option of extending it for a further three months if necessary.
The property on Florence Street is a two-bay maintenance garage, which will be changed to a one-bay ambulance garage with room for the crew.
“The cheapest way of doing the renovation was to take out one bay instead of putting an addition on,” McCormick noted.
“The paramedics have helped in coming up with a workable design,” Reeve Gamsby noted.
One of the benefits of the new location is its proximity to the highway, and the fact the ambulance will not be blocked by trains as sometimes happens at the current location, McCormick added.
That project will go out to tender in the coming weeks.
In other news, Michael Lewis was elected DSSAB chair and Lake of the Woods Mayor Val Pizey as vice-chair.