Miramichi Leader K. BRYANNAH JAMES
Miramichi (08/22/2014) – The parliamentary secretary to the minister of Public Works and Government Services says everything is on track when it comes to the new federal payroll centre in Miramichi.
On Friday, Aug. 25 Bernard Trottier, Tilly O’Neill-Gordon, Conservative MP for Miramichi and other individuals were on hand at the Public Service Pay Centre in Miramichi as Trottier toured the facility and spoke about what lays ahead for the new payroll centre to be built in the city.
“The big part of what we’re doing here is, we want to communicate with the people at the pay centre that this project is moving according to plan, full speed ahead,” said Trottier, who is the MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
He explained as of right now the government is tendering the contract to get the facility built in Miramichi, something which won’t be awarded until next year.
He said the new pay centre will be a top of the line facility with regards to environmental and technological standards, for instance, and will generate jobs.
“It’s a complicated contract because…they have to design the building, build up, operate the building, maintain it. It’s going to be here for the long term,” he said.
A Request for Qualification process for the construction of the 9,300-square-metre facility was opened up on the government’s online public tendering service in January 2013 and has been ongoing since that time.
That RFQ calls for an invitation for firms across the country to submit bids to design, build, operate, maintain and lease the new structure. At the end of a 20-year period, the federal government will have the option of purchasing the building.
“It’s going to be one of the finest buildings in all of Miramichi. And, as long as the public service needs a pay centre, this is the place that’s going to do that,” said Trottier.
The parliamentary secretary has been conducting round table discussions around the province and Nova Scotia recently, and said he was at the service centre on Friday because it was the “opportune time” to communicate what was going with the centre.
“To make sure that these milestones were being recognized, they’re moving ahead with the pay centre is going to be good news unfolding once the bids are entered and the contracts awarded,” he said. “So anytime you have a long term project you need to let people know what’s going on.”
To date, more than 300 pay centre workers have been hired and are currently providing services and undergoing training at temporary office space at either the Miramichi Mall of the former UPM-Kymmene offices will eventually be relocated to a new new, state-of-the-art office building between University Avenue and John Street at the Miramichi Agricultural Exhibition Centre.
While he was on the city, Trottier also had a lunch meeting with Mayor Gerry Cormier and city manager Mike Noel with O’Neill-Gordon in attendance.
Trottier said both Cormier and Noel were excited about what the jobs the pay centre will create and the economic spinoff from it.
“Not only does this pay centre create jobs, just in and of itself, but there’s all these other kinds of service industries that go along with it,” said the secretary. “There’s going to be construction jobs, obviously in the short term, but other developments in and around the pay centre, are going to be exciting.”
Noel said the message he and Cormier wanted to get across was that the payroll centre is a “big initiative” within the community and something the city is waiting to see come to fruition.
“The community is waiting for shovel in the ground. Some people are waiting for shovels in the ground before they initiative their own developments and their own spinoff,” said Noel. “The message that we brought to him was we’re quite happy that this is moving forward and we’re encouraging them, as soon as possible.”
Noel said from their understanding, the contract will be awarded next spring and that there’s a lag between the time it’s awarded and the actual physical construction of the facility.
“There is a lot of work for the successful party to do before they actually start the building. But we would like to see work started on the project as soon as possible, as much as could be done,” said Noel.
Noel said once a successful party wins the bid, there are other details which need to be sorted, such as design work and other details with the government.
Noel said he thinks the meeting went well, and that Trottier was receptive to what they had to say.
“This is a linchpin of this community’s re-development and that is what we brought home to him. You could not underestimate the importance of this development to this community,” said Noel.
Trottier said one of the reasons he is in the city was to communicate the economic spinoff the pay centre will generate.
“If people want some kind of certainty about making investments in Miramichi, they want to hear that this project is really going ahead,” he said. “So even though the plan is basically unfolding the way it’s supposed to, doesn’t hurt for us just to let people know this is moving ahead and let the larger community here in Miramichi know about it.”
Trottier explained what concerns or issues may have been raised by Cormier and Noel at the meeting.
“They’re very keen because they know once people have that insurance that this project is going ahead, they’ll start to make those investments,” he said.
He added, “The federal government owns the land, and there’s going to be this transfer of land to the developer, the developer, once those contracts are signed are going to make some investments in roads and infrastructure. It also means an increase to the tax base in Miramichi.”
O’Neill-Gordon said she was happy to have Trottier in Miramichi, noting that both Trottier and Ottawa know O’Neill-Gordon is “pushing for this” with regards to the pay centre.
“It’s all cut and dried already. It’s just a matter that it has to follow the process that it’s suppose to follow.”
She seconded what Trottier said about the facility being state-of-the-art and the economic spinoff that follows.
“It’s something that we’ll be very, very proud of.”
With files from Kris McDavid