At what point is the government going to step in and say: “Enough is enough.”?
“…it is important that TransLink ensures that every dollar spent gets maximum value.
To do so, it should tighten budgets to encourage fiscal tension and discipline in how it delivers its services.
It needs to become more cost focused by placing higher priority on frugality and productivity in its decision-making criteria.”
~ Translink Efficiency Review, March 2012 http://translinkcommission.org/TransLink_Efficiency_Review_Mar_21-12_FINAL.pdf
**** October 20th/2013 – the above link is no longer available on the Translink Commissions website – here is a working link( for now), that I found buried on the Translink site. Neither the Commissions site or Translinks make it easy for the average person to find these documents : http://www.translinkcommission.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/TransLink_Efficiency_Review_Mar_21-12_FINAL.pdf
|Noun||1.||frugality – prudence in avoiding waste|
( otherwise know as : Thriftiness, conservation, moderation and good management)
If you haven’t heard already, in June of this year Translink consolidated three of their organizations into one grand head office in New Westminster.
“Derek Zabel, of TransLink’s media relations, said TransLink’s, the Transit Police’s and Coast Mountain Bus Company’s head offices will combine at the new Sapperton location in New Westminster on June 1.The new building’s lease will be $1.7 million a year, including operating costs, which will save a total of $2.6 million a year when TransLink officially occupies the new site “
Of course, we recently heard that Translink was left paying the $100,000 a month lease payment on their vacated Gateway premises – on a 6 year term – because they have not been able to locate another tenant to take over the lease.
“Jiana Ling with TransLink says they’re having trouble finding subtenants for a building near Gateway in Surrey. “It is the market right now. We are actively looking for a subtenant but the market in Surrey is a high vacancy rate.”
And just this week, CKNW reported that Translink has had to put up millions of dollars to remove liens from the new headquarters …
Ironically, I was contacted and informed by a source about these liens last weekend, and was waiting for a response from Translink when CKNW first ran the story on air Wednesday afternoon. As it turns out, Translink appeared to have sent the same response via email to NW, that they sent to me at the very same time.
The Translink Tenant Improvement Project, as it is officially named, should be subject to far more scrutiny than just the story on the liens.
Sources indicate that the $ 4,789,374.89 in total liens are not only for originally contracted work, but also for Translink approved changes – which is where sources indicate the sources of the dispute on many payments have arisen.
Often in major construction projects, change directives are a source of dispute and occasionally litigation between contracters and owners – or in this case, organizations like Translink. Sources indicate that Translink submitted change directives and the work was done, but when the sub-contracters started submitting their bills, Translink balked at payment.
Translink has now provided a letter of credit which guarantees payment of the liens, as required by the terms of their new lease, however in the end, taxpayers are left holding the bag -with more questions than answers as Translink has refused to address why their new premises required millions in dollars of renovations and improvements.
I emailed Translink’s media team last week, and asked why the new location required such extensive improvements – this is a new building after all – and what the total cost of the project was, since Translink states that they have already “paid all amounts it considers to be currently due and owing to Magil Construction.”
No answer. Didn’t touch either question in this emailed reponse from Translink spokesperson, Jiana Ling:
“The majority of the liens filed are a result of the dispute between Magil Construction and the companies Magil Construction has contracted with to perform the work.
Liens have been filed as per the BC Builders Lien Act. One court action has been initiated by a subcontractor against Magil Construction.
The lease terms obligate TransLink to post security in the event liens are filed on the leased property.
TransLink has paid all amounts it considers to be currently due and owing to Magil Construction.
The majority of the lien amount is not in dispute but represents payments withheld because Magil Construction has not complied with all of its contractual obligations.
With respect to your question regarding Gateway, TransLink has been actively seeking a sub-tenant for the Gateway location since 2012. Many have expressed interest and a number of them have toured the space more than once.
So, let’s do a re-cap here.
We have an efficiency review done last year stating Translink needs to be frugal and tighten their budgets.
That same review states Translink corporate overhead is bigger than any of their peer organizations across Canada.
So Translink does something that appears to make sense and consolidate three of their organizations into one location, which they tell the public is going to save $2.7 million a year in lease payments. ( we won’t talk about the redundancy of costs involved in having Transit Police and Transit security in this post)
But considering Translink has not factored in the millions of $$ spent on this project… and keep in mind,we still do not know the total cost of this Translink Tenant Improvement Project, only the liened amount… nor did they factor in the $1.2 million a year in lease payments on empty offices they vacated to consolidate…. will Translink have saved any money at all in making this move to New Westminster?
What kind of facilities are in this new headquarters? Employee wellness centre? Lovely lunch room? Beautiful art?
Speaking of beautiful art… and keeping that statement about Translink needing to cut costs and be frugal…. Is it a frugal and good expenditure of funds to budget $600,000 dollars for art installations ? Wouldn’t residents prefer better service? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/08/28/bc-translink-art.html
Where is the outrage over the expenditures on the improvements to these new premises? What exactly does this amount of money get you?
Where is the questioning of this revelation about the liens? When Translink is claiming they couldn’t do the $9 million dollar fix to allow transfers to be read at Skytrain because it wasn’t in the taxpayers best interest, one must ask if over $5 million dollars in improvements to the new headquarters in the taxpayers best interests as well.
One thing is clear- Translink is operating without any accountability to the provincial government, and most of all, to the public. I suggest Translink holds an open house so the public can see firsthand what all these $$$ paid for.