THUNDER BAY – The federal government has announced $19.6 million in funding towards the construction of a new waterfront art gallery, a project that's been in the works since 2009.
Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu announced the funds, which come through Infrastructure Canada's GICB program, at an event Thursday.
“This is infrastructure money that goes to projects that are using it to reduce emissions, to build up things that communities need and that are valuable to communities, but in a way that is climate-focused,” she said.
“Actually, this is the third federal contribution towards the art gallery, and it’s just an indication of how important a role the art gallery plays in our communities.”
With the latest contribution, the project has raised a total of $49.8 million dollars so far toward the Thunder Bay Art Gallery's new structure, with $35.7 coming from the federal government, $5.7 million coming from the Province of Ontario, $5.7 million from the City of Thunder Bay, and $2.7 million from community contributions.
“The budget is being revised because with this grant, we have the option to make the building net carbon neutral, which had some cost. We’ve also been delayed by the environmental piece,” said Sharon Godwin. the gallery's executive director.
“And to be totally honest, COVID has affected the budget because, you know, none of us will really know the cost of building materials as we move ahead.”
The gallery is now estimated to open in 2025, with the funds allowing it to move forward to construction.
The project was originally scheduled to open in 2019/2020, but, the Gallery’s waterfront relocation project was delayed by zoning changes that triggered a Record of Site Condition through the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks, as well as COVID-19 restrictions.
“We have had to be very patient. The community has also been patient and I know it’s been difficult. There were times where we didn’t have answers to questions because we didn’t know when we were going to tender, and we didn’t know when we’d be building,” said Godwin.
“We did know once, and that changed. So yeah, patience, and I think that’s true of so many projects, not only in this community but in others and it takes much longer than anyone really realizes.”