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Report pegs cost of Stage 1 of Back to the River at $14.6M, exceeding initial estimate

Concept drawings by Civitas and Stantec for the Back to the River project. .
Concept drawings by Civitas and Stantec for the Back to the River project. . Concept drawings by Civitas and Stantec

A funding gap has emerged as London City Hall prepares to review the next steps for the controversial Back to the River project.

The plan to revitalize the Thames River is set to be discussed at Tuesday’s Civic Works Committee meeting when councillors will review the completed environmental assessment for the plan.

City staff estimate the total cost will be $14.6 million which includes partial removal of the Springbank Dam, construction of a suspended walkway, community gathering space and amphitheatre along the Forks of the Thames in the downtown core.

READ MORE: Coun. Shawn Lewis hopes for support in push to alter London’s Back to the River project

The updated total is $2.9 million more than the initial budget for the project and the figure could rise still further if council opts for full removal of Springbank Dam.

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The completed environmental assessment arrives on councillors’ desks days after they met to discuss increased budget pressures created by funding downloading from the provincial government.

Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis has been outspoken in his criticism of the plan and called for council to remove it as one of its top priorities weeks ago.

READ MORE: City looking for public input on Stage 2 of London’s One River Master Plan

The London Community Foundation has pledged $2 million towards the cost of the plan, but has already warned it may reconsider working with the city on future projects if Back to the River doesn’t move forward.

The Civic Works Committee will be asked to receive the environmental assessment — doing so would not bind the city to any future plans with the project.

The committee will meet Tuesday, May 14 at 4 p.m.

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