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Soaring costs expected for future garages and ambulance stations

The estimated cost for five new ambulance stations and four new public works garages in Wellington County is $45.5 million and $74 million respectively
County of Wellington Administration Centre. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Updated cost estimates for future County of Wellington ambulance stations and public works garages are painting a more expensive picture over the next 10 years than had been previously projected. 

A presentation as part of a special county council meeting on its 2024 budget and 10-year plan shows a projected $45.5 million to build five new ambulance stations from 2024 to 2032, and $74 million to build four new public works garages from 2025 to 2032.

The cost of major construction projects remain high, the presentation noted, with the tenders for the Arthur Garage, 65 Delhi transitional housing and Erin library coming in “significantly over original budget estimates in the summer.”

These higher than expected costs are starting to reflect in the county’s 10-year plan. 

The presentation said the county has received updated construction estimates from the City of Guelph on new ambulance stations, anticipating the same floor plan with two bays per station, adjusted square footage from 3,200 sq. ft. to 5,700 sq. ft. and adjusted for inflation. 

Updated estimates put the total cost for the five stations at $45.5 million which is $33.8 million higher than previous estimates. This also does not include any land that needs to be bought for the stations, which is expected for the new Erin, Guelph/Eramosa and Mount Forest stations.


County treasurer Ken DeHart explained via email the county builds the stations at its own cost initially but then recoups the costs through lease payments from the ambulance service which are about a 60 per cent and 40 per cent cost split between the City of Guelph and County of Wellington over a yet to be determined period of time.

The presentation noted the last study on the optimal location to put these ambulance stations was last done in 2018 and the city does not plan to conduct a new full study until 2027. The city is however planning to do an “abbreviated study” on the top priority sites in Erin, Guelph/Eramosa and Arthur but there is no firm commitment. 

It also said the city has requested the county consider moving forward with the Arthur site sooner as it already has the land. 

It’s a similar situation with the county’s planned public works garages which have had construction cost estimates updated based on the cost of the Arthur Garage which rose to $16.8 million from the $9.2 million budgeted. 

In total, the four new garages are expected to cost $74.1 million, a difference of $40.8 million from previous estimates. In this case, the county has the required land for expansion.


The presentation stated the county is “unlikely to be able to keep the current schedule of county garage construction projects without increasing the amount of debt and taxes.”

“Is council prepared to increase debt and taxes to stick to the county garage replacement schedule?” the presentation asked. “Would council prefer to delay and defer garage projects to maintain debt and taxes close to projected levels in the existing 10-year plan?”

One potential point of relief pointed out in the presentation is the county had a $28 million reconstruction and parking project for 21 Douglas St. in the forecast for 2028. With the acquisition of the Wellington Catholic District School Board property, the presentation said this project is no longer required.

Staff will present this and other considerations for the 2024 budget and 10-year plan at Thursday’s special meeting starting at 10 a.m. at the county administration building.

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Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for EloraFergusToday, covering Wellington County. Keegan has been working with Village Media for more than two years and helped launch EloraFergusToday in 2021.
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