News / Edmonton

Discovery of new structural issues at Milner Library means city will pay more for renovations

Issues with foundation discovered, could increase cost of building the new facility

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

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

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

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 be able to cover the extra costs by moving funds from existing budgets for the renovation.

A rendering of what the Stanley Milner Library will look like once built.

A rendering of what the Stanley Milner Library will look like once built.

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 had already made some changes to save money that will now help to 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, that’s an iconic building that provides innovative services,” she said.

The library is expected to be finished in 2020.

More on Metronews.ca