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Makeover of the 'Mink Mile' to cost $4.5-million more than planned

Constuction continues along Bloor Street and isn't expected to be finished until the end of 2011, a year late and $4.5-million over budget.

Fred Lum

The preliminary bill is in for Bloor Street's makeover, and it's nearly $4.5-million higher than the original contract.

The cost of beautifying the Mink Mile has ballooned to nearly $24.2-million from $19.7-million, largely because of work Toronto Hydro and others decided to undertake while the street was torn up.

It's been known for some time that Bloor Street's revitalization – which area councillor Kyle Rae has derided as "St. Clair, Part Two" – is behind schedule and over budget.

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But a report to next week's meeting of the public works committee lays out for the first time just how expensive the project has become, and why.

"Since commencement of the BSTP [Bloor Street Transformation Project]contract, significant unforeseen issues have arisen resulting in extra work, cost escalation, and considerable delay," the report says.

Toronto Hydro is blamed for the lion's share of the overrun. The utility had to rebuild and physically lower 14 hydro chambers, concrete rooms beneath the sidewalk that contain high-voltage transformers to power nearby buildings.

The work turned out to be more extensive than Hydro realized at the outset, prompting it to defer the stretch between Yonge Street and Avenue Road from 2009 to 2010 at a cost of $2.1-million.

The $460,000 cost of five new streetlights was added to the bill for the main contractor, Four Seasons Site Development Ltd., after "scheduling conflicts" and unspecified health and safety concerns prevented a subcontractor from doing the work.

Relocating a Bell duct structure beneath the south-side curb lane between Park Road and St. Paul's Square cost $244,900, $173,900 of which the city is expected to recover through a cost-sharing deal.

The duct delay prompted the Bloor Street Business Improvement Area, which is paying for the bulk of the revitalization, to ask the contractor in August 2008 to begin work on the north side of the street so the sidewalk could be finished in time for the holiday shopping season. It turned out Brookfield Properties Corporation, owner of 2 Bloor Street, had to waterproof an underground roof before work could start, forcing another delay that cost $391,000.

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The new Bloor Street, complete with swanky granite sidewalks, trees and planters overflowing with flowers, is now expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2010, a year late.

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Health reporter

Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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