As li­brary goes up, so do costs

More struc­tural is­sues pop up in Mil­ner ren­o­va­tion

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The price tag for ren­o­va­tions on the Stan­ley Mil­ner Li­brary in down­town Ed­mon­ton is now a few mil­lion dol­lars more, af­ter work­ers dis­cov­ered more is­sues with the struc­ture of the build­ing dur­ing con­struc­tion.

City staff told coun­cil that is­sues like ex­posed re­bar and aban­doned elec­tri­cal and me­chan­i­cal equip­ment in the ceil­ing forced the city to ne­go­ti­ate a new bud­get for the project.

Mayor Don Ive­son didn’t have an ex­act num­ber but said the project will now cost “a few mil­lion” more.

The orig­i­nal de­sign was pegged at $69 mil­lion.

“The chal­lenge with you go­ing to de­sign and re­ha­bil­i­tate, in par­tic­u­lar a 50-year-old build­ing… is you never know what you will find,” said Adam Laugh­lin, deputy city man­ager of in­te­grated in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices.

He said one of the rea­sons they didn’t find the is­sues ear­lier is be­cause the li­brary was op­er­a­tional right up un­til ren­o­va­tions be­gan.

“It’s very hard to in­ves­ti­gate and un­earth some of the things you find be­hind the walls or in the floors while the build­ing is in use,” Laugh­lin said. “And so it’s a risk that, you go into any of these re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion if it’s an ac­tive space.”

He said the li­brary will not need ex­tra money from the city, but will cover ex­tra costs by mov­ing funds from ex­ist­ing bud­gets for the ren­o­va­tion.

Ive­son said the city is still get­ting good value on the ren­o­va­tion.

“I want to un­der­line again that by re­pur­pos­ing this struc­ture and ren­o­vat­ing at what we are work­ing with, we are still go­ing to get a sig­na­ture down­town li­brary at a frac­tion of the cost to what Cal­gary is spend­ing to build a new one,” he said.

Pi­lar Martinez, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Ed­mon­ton Pub­lic Li­brary, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion made some changes to save money that will help cover the ex­tra costs. For ex­am­ple, in 2016, Mil­ner moved 30 full-time em­ploy­ees to other branches with va­cant po­si­tions.

“I think at the end of the day we want to en­sure Ed­mon­to­ni­ans that they have a space that they are re­ally proud of.”

Kevin Tuong/for meTro

Con­struc­tion of the new Stan­ley Mil­ner Li­brary un­der­way in down­town Ed­mon­ton.

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