Nova Scotia

Pandemic doubles cost, delays installation of C.B. police backup generator

Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be paying double and waiting a year to get a backup generator for the police headquarters in Sydney, N.S., thanks to pandemic-induced supply chain issues.

CBRM public works director says supply chain issues mean $400K generator will now cost $800K

Cape Breton Regional Municipality director of public works Wayne MacDonald says supply chain issues caused by the pandemic have significantly affected the purchase of a backup power generator. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Fallout from the pandemic is being blamed for a doubling of the cost of a backup power generator for police headquarters in Sydney, N.S.

That has some Cape Breton regional councillors fearing further financial troubles are on the horizon.

The purchase was budgeted at $400,000 last year on the advice of a consultant, but public works director Wayne MacDonald told council earlier this week that the tenders came in at more than $800,000.

MacDonald said CBRM has the extra money in a reserve account, but staff need authorization before proceeding.

"The cost is significantly higher than the estimate," he said. "That's why it's here today for council."

According to the provincial tenders website, unofficial bid results included one for $808,047 and one for $842,157.

Shipping to be delayed, too

The cost of electrical components has tripled or quadrupled during the pandemic, MacDonald said, and the prices are not likely coming down anytime soon.

In addition, shipping and installation will be delayed, he said.

"Due to supply chain issues associated with our current pandemic situation ... the delivery date is approximately one year," MacDonald said.

The police building has a small generator that provides sufficient power to look after anyone being kept in the holding cells, but the rest of the building needs backup in case of an outage, MacDonald said.

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger says prices have 'gone crazy' because of the pandemic and that does not bode well for the CBRM budget this year. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said the extra cost of a generator does not bode well for the municipality's budget.

"I realize that things have gone crazy with the pandemic and costs for everything," he said.

"You know, a two-by-four is $10. I mean seriously, right, who would ever have [thought] this would happen?"

Mayor Amanda McDougall said council and staff will have to keep a watchful eye on costs this year.

"I think this is a prime example of the unknowns of the pandemic and I know many of us think in our minds, 'OK, we're coming to the end,' but this is just the beginning of the after-effect, too, so [there will be] much planning ahead when it comes to our big projects."

CBRM council approved the purchase, with the funds being taken from operating reserves.


Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at