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I have been struggling recently to understand the bureaucratic approvals process at the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) for new mental health clinics in rural settings. Here is my concern, to receive MOHLTC funding the Agency requesting the money must navigate an approval process to ensure the utmost scrutiny and due diligence is conducted. However the process dictated is the same process no matter if the Agency requesting money is looking to build a modest $1 million or substantial $50+ million facility. For the general public reading this article both budgets might sound substantial, however for people in the construction and architecture sectors we know that a modest $1 million budget is small and the cost of construction/renovation of modest spaces is expensive.

Common sense should then prevail that a separate streamline approval process should be set up for smaller budget projects and better ways of procuring consultant services and general contractors would help. Yet I feel that the MOHLTC is using the same tools no matter what size and type of project.

What is also concerning is the lack of innovation in the delivery of both the functional program and schematic design. The functional program and schematic design go hand in hand. They should not happen sequentially and should actually be conducted through an integrated approach cross informing each other. It has been my experience that it is a requirement by the MOHLTC that the functional program is completed before work can begin on schematic design. The MOHLTC is missing an opportunity to instill innovation in the project delivery of many of their projects that goes above and beyond costs savings and addresses the need of the service provider to engage both the functional programmer and architect at the same time in a more  consultative and collaborative manner.

I am lucky to work for a firm who preaches this type of innovation. I hope to work with the MOHLTC to innovate their project delivery method and approval process. I believe it is all about creating a fair and open approval process that delivers service in the best way possible optimizing efficiencies and reducing costs to the taxpayer.

 

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Receiving little attention in Ontario as the October 6th provincial election nears is the recent interest by Infrastructure Ontario to bundle projects into larger packages and sell through an Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model, sometimes called P3’s (public-private partnerships). For all my Alberta readers, Infrastructure Ontario is a crown corporation that manages infrastructure projects in Ontario (name says it all). This crown corporation is carefully looking at the potential to bundle smaller infrastructure projects, such as schools, libraries, etc. into larger projects that seek private financing.

Private developers agree to build these projects and rent/lease them back to the government based on a guaranteed rate of return for X amount of years. The benefit to the government is that the private developer takes all the risk in building the government buildings and the government does not provide the initial investment. Private developers enjoy lower interest rates when they are approaching banks with large infrastructure projects that are bundled together.

The Ontario architecture community has been abuzz about the possibility of bundling. The conversation has revolved around how efficient is bundling smaller projects to use the AFP model. How efficient is IO current delivery system for these projects? It has become common knowledge that IO internal costing of projects is weak. They tend to underestimate their budgets before the RFP stage leaving the successful proponent with the aftermath of meeting a budget that only covers the must haves.

What I am more interested in is, what effect will IO takeover of smaller projects from numerous other government organizations have on the product delivered. How will the government client be affected by bundling? Bundling creates a situation where the clients project is just one of many similar projects. Will clients receive innovative solutions that assists their stated mission and enhances the quality of services they provide? How will bundling affect the quality and lifespan of the building? How closely will private financiers have to follow the PSOS or PDC Architects design that are developed for each project? Can clients expect to see cutting edge environmental design and individually tailored solutions to their needs? The AFP model is an innovative way to bring in private money to develop public goods, however how does profit affect the construction cost and profit margins?

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M.Arch year one complete!

I have begun updated and revamping this blog again. It will now include a portfolio of my work! Please be patients while the changes occur.

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Cont’d

Its 3:00 AM and I am doing some house cleaning. I have an old Blogger account and I am transferring over my whole blog to wordpress.

I will pick and choose some of my old posts to get start me off. However, my new blog will take a different approach.

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