Plans for a new New Brunswick Museum along the Saint John waterfront are very much up in the air, following word the Blaine Higgs government is cancelling $50 million in capital funding the previous Liberal government had committed for the $100 million project.
The news came on Tuesday with the release of the government’s 2019/20 Capital Budget, which outlines $600 million in infrastructure spending. That’s down considerably from the previous estimate put forth by the Brian Gallant Liberals.
In a news release, the New Brunswick Museum said its “staff and Board Members are very disappointed” with the government’s decision. Officials are expected to have more to say on the matter at a news conference later Wednesday.
On Tuesday, provincial Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Oliver told reporters in Fredericton the government is aware there is a priority for a museum but going forward, they have to make sure they are doing the right things for New Brunswick.
“They’ve told us that we want to concentrate on schools and hospitals and rural New Brunswick and the roads so you saw that in the announcements today,” said Oliver.
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Oliver says the government will be looking at the entire operation going forward.
“We know that we have to protect the assets that are in there,” he said. “We have to do something with the Douglas Avenue property every bit as much as we look at what we do downtown.”
Plans for the new, state-of-the-art facility were released earlier this year and would have seen the Collections & Research Centre and Exhibition Centre under one roof. Currently, the Collections & Research Centre is housed in a separate facility on Douglas Avenue in the city’s north end, which is need of major renovations. The new museum was slated for completion in 2023.
The previous Liberal government committed the $50 million in the fall of 2017. In its news release, the museum says federal funding had also been committed for the project, although an official announcement had not yet been made.