September 13, 2017 2:10 pm
Updated: September 13, 2017 8:12 pm

Unexpected issues raise cost of Stanley Milner Library renovations

WATCH ABOVE: Renovating Edmonton's downtown library will cost millions more than originally expected. Fletcher Kent has the details.


Edmonton city council heard Wednesday that construction work being done on the Stanley A. Milner Library downtown has uncovered some unexpected problems.

Crews found issues with the foundation, mechanical systems, rebar and fire suppression systems.

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“We found more deterioration in… our roof floor slabs where there was some exposed rebar,” deputy city manager Adam Laughlin said. “We did an assessment on the long-term life of [the mechanical and electrical] systems and, for the extended life of the facility, we identified that we should be upgrading those. We also identified significant deterioration on the roof.”

Currently, there is no cost estimate for the added problems; it is being negotiated with the contractor.

The bottom line is that the library renovation will cost more than the $69 million that was budgeted.

READ MORE: Council being told of downtown Edmonton library problems in private 

“I’ve renovated a couple of kitchens in old houses in my day and this is exactly what happens when you open up a 50-year-old wall,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “You find stuff in there that does not make sense.

“We had a contingency on this project for some smaller things to emerge because you’d expect that but some very, very significant things have emerged.”

READ MORE: New renderings show Edmonton’s Stanley A. Milner Library after revitalization

Councillors were told the project was still on time and scheduled to open in 2020.

City administration said it should be able to find the extra money needed from existing budgets. The library also said it will find some money to help with the added work needed, however no dollar amount was provided.

“We’ve known it’s been a tight budget all along so we’ve done some strategic things to mitigate the funding challenges,” Edmonton Public Library CEO Pilar Martinez said.

“What we would have done with those funds would have been more enhanced features that now have to go to capital that’s just part of the regular building.”

READ MORE: Sneak peek at Stanley A. Milner Revitalization project

The library closed for renovations on Dec. 31 and construction began in January.

The Stanley A. Milner Library renovation project will include opening up a third floor, adding more natural light and creating an eye-catching exterior.

City council approved $62.5 million for the revitalization of the downtown library in 2014, with $52.5 million coming from the city and $10 million coming from community support and fundraising.

“We’re still going to get a signature downtown library for a fraction of the cost of what Calgary’s spending to build a new one,” the mayor said.

The library first opened in 1967 and was renamed to Stanley A. Milner in 1996.

“We are going to be building this iconic building right on Churchill Square,” Councillor Michael Oshry said. “We’ve got to make sure we do this right. It’s going to be a feature for our city.”
— With files from Fletcher Kent

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