Coun­cil­lors con­sider who should pay for ex­tra gallery costs

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - PHIL TANK

The Re­mai Mod­ern art gallery re­mains nearly $4 mil­lion over bud­get and ques­tions linger over whether Saska­toon tax­pay­ers should be re­quired to cover that.

At Tues­day’s meet­ing of city coun­cil’s gov­er­nance and pri­or­i­ties com­mit­tee, Coun. Bev Dubois ze­roed in on a $3-mil­lion con­tin­gency fund for over­spend­ing on the gallery.

City man­ager Mur­ray Tot­land said the fi­nal cost of the gallery is still be­ing fi­nal­ized with the con­trac­tor, El­lisDon Cor­po­ra­tion.

Kerry Tara­soff, the city’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, said the over­spend­ing is close to $4 mil­lion.

“Do we need to have that on the backs of the tax­pay­ers?” Dubois asked. “I’m hear­ing tax­pay­ers don’t want that.”

She asked why the gallery board can’t try to fundraise for the ex­tra mil­lions.

Tot­land said the $3 mil­lion is be­ing held as a con­tin­gency at this point and coun­cil still re­tains the dis­cre­tion to de­cide whether to use it to pay for the gallery or pur­sue an­other strat­egy. He said he won­ders whether any fundrais­ing push would be suc­cess­ful now that the gallery is com­pleted, how­ever.

“I think it’s a bit of a tough ask to go out and raise an­other $3 mil­lion, $2 mil­lion now that the gallery’s done,” Tot­land said.

The gallery is a city-owned build­ing, the com­mit­tee heard.

Coun. Dar­ren Hill noted coun­cil could de­cide to loan the money to the gallery and get it back by claw­ing back the city’s an­nual op­er­at­ing grant for the Re­mai Mod­ern.

Some as­sets in­side the build­ing could still raise money through the sale of nam­ing rights, Coun. Zach Jef­fries added.

Mayor Char­lie Clark called for a com­pre­hen­sive re­port on the gallery, de­tail­ing the rea­sons for the cost over­runs.

“It’s frus­trat­ing to ev­ery­body that we’re deal­ing with that over­run,” he said.

When city coun­cil ap­proved the con­struc­tion of a new gallery to re­place the Men­del Art Gallery in 2009, the com­bined cost for the gallery and the parkade be­low it were es­ti­mated at $58 mil­lion.

The cost of the gallery alone is now es­ti­mated to be at least $84.6 mil­lion, with­out the $19.5-mil­lion cost of the parkade. The parkade’s cost is be­ing paid al­most en­tirely by the city, while the gallery was built with a mix of fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and city money, plus about $24 mil­lion in fundrais­ing.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, coun­cil heard the Re­mai Mod­ern was $3.5 mil­lion to $4.5 mil­lion over bud­get and the open­ing was pushed from the fall of 2016 to early 2017.

When it was first ap­proved, con­struc­tion of the new gallery was sup­posed to be­gin in 2011 and be com­plete by 2014.

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