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New Alliston school project facing shortfall in funding tariff hikes

Posted January 9, 2019

A planned new Catholic elementary school in the Alliston Treetops community is the third local capital project facing unfunded shortfalls in trade-war tariffs levied on steel (25 per cent) and aluminum (10 per cent).

The Simcoe Muskoka District Catholic School Board (SMDCSB) was allocated $10,344,569 last January to build a new school to accommodate 470 students. The project also included an additional $1,588,137 investment for three child care rooms (49 spaces). However, those grants were announced prior to the May 31, 2018 American imposed duties. Canada retaliated on July 1 with similar trade-restrictive countermeasures on up to $16.6 billion in imports of steel, aluminum and other products from the United States.

VG Architects

Pauline Stevenson, SMDCSB Communications Manager told Free Press Online via email, "all aspects of the project are continuing, the project is not on hold."

The two-storey school building is expected to be 47,480 sq. ft.,  L-shaped configuration with a chapel located at the front entrance. Four kindergarten and 15 classrooms, child care spaces would cover 4,284 sq. ft. over three rooms accommodating infants, toddlers and preschoolers. It is scheduled to open in September 2020.

"We have initiated a dialogue with the Ministry (of Education) to raise concerns related to capital funding levels for all projects," wrote Ms Stevenson. "There are new economic realities like aluminum and steel tariffs, rising interest rates and a saturated market. All Ontario school boards are struggling with rising costs for capital projects, but the ministry is not providing the necessary additional funding to offset these increases."

Other projects similarly impacted in New Tecumseth include the new Tottenham library branch, whose work stopped completely last fall, after the Town and the contractor couldn't agree on who should finance the additional tariffs.

And, according to the 2019 municipal budget draft, the estimated cost to build the new administration centre has climbed to $16.8 million, up from the approximate $15 million ceiling approved by the previous council, due to tariffs. The budget presentation to council begins Thursday (Jan. 10).

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri