An update on construction of the Remai Modern art gallery was presented Tuesday at a meeting of the city’s environment, utilities and corporate services committee.
In the report, officials noted that substantial progress has been made. About 65 per cent of the drywall is estimated to be complete, alongside between 80 and 90 per cent of the duct work for the heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
They also pointed out that elevators are being installed and a feature staircase in the buildings’ main foyer is also complete.
All told, construction is expected to be finished in the fall of 2016, with the gallery opening to the public in early 2017.
The project has run into cost overruns. As of the latest report, there is a funding gap of between $2.5 and $4.5 million.
Administration said they are looking at ways to curb costs on things like furniture and fixtures. They said they’re also in contact with the gallery about finding more private money to make up the difference. The city had set aside $1.35 million to cover costs at the gallery based on its original September 2016 opening date. As part of easing the funding crunch, $800,000 of that money is to be diverted into construction costs.
Councillor Zach Jeffries asked administration to come back with a more detailed report on efforts to contain costs.
He said he wants the information out there to reassure people that everything possible is being done to rein in the price tag for the gallery.
“I do hear about it on occasion (from consituents). And of course, there is some general frustration with the fact a much larger gallery does have larger operating costs. And there’s also the fact that this project has gone over budget,” he said.
First elected in 2012, Jeffries wasn’t a member of the 2010 council that voted in favour of building the gallery.
Nonetheless, he said he wants the city to learn as much as it can from the project to prevent budgets on future buildings from ballooning.
“I do have to remind folks that I wasn’t necessarily here to make the decision to build the gallery. But it is my responsibility to make sure we’re doing all that we can to keep costs in line,” he said.