Citing escalating costs, the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ont., terminated its land lease agreement with Parks Canada to build a new museum next to the Peterborough Lift Lock.
On Wednesday, museum officials announced the end of the land lease agreement to build the 83,400-square-foot facility adjacent to the historic Peterborough Lift Lock along Hunter Street and Ashburnham Drive in the city’s east end.
In May, officials detected an industrial solvent — trichloroethylene (TCE) — and other chemicals in the ground where the $65-million state-of-the-art museum would be built.
Museum officials say the costs associated with clearing the contamination, along with escalating costs due to project delays, make the site “no longer viable” for the new museum build. The current museum is on Monaghan Road in a former factory, but space is limited to showcase the more than 600 watercraft and thousands of artifacts.
Ground-breaking was originally scheduled to take place during the 2020 fiscal year.
“The Canadian Canoe Museum and Parks Canada have worked together to reach an amicable dissolution to the Lift Lock lease agreement at no additional punitive cost to the museum,” said Carolyn Hyslop, the museum’s executive director.
She said the museum is engaged in a proactive site selection process and is reviewing multiple alternative sites, located in Peterborough, to determine where it will construct its new museum.
“We are fully committed to realizing a new museum on the water and hope to bring you news of our progress in the coming weeks,” she said.
Feasibility studies and environmental assessments will be conducted before selecting the new site for the building of a new canoe museum. The project is expected to be shovel-ready by the end of 2021.
The CCM is targeting completion of the project for late 2023 or early 2024.
“We are in the process of identifying and selecting a new site for what will be a revised museum design that will complement the waterfront site selection,” she said.
But Hyslop didn’t specify where the CCM is looking but added it will be in Peterborough and an announcement is expected by the end of the year.
“CCM is committed to being a key economic contributor to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. CCM remains dedicated to building a home that will permit us to share 100 per cent of our collection in a facility that meets conservation standards, to creating a new suite of exhibitions and to increasing opportunities for in-person, digital and on-water programming.”
Hyslop says the museum is “profoundly grateful” to those who supported the original build project and is committed to its donors and supporters.
“We had a beautiful, award-winning design that was perfectly suited for the Lift Lock location that is regretfully utterly non-transferable to another location,” she said.
In an email to Global News Peterborough, Parks Canada stated it was disappointed the project will no longer be at the Peterborough Lift Lock site, but it understands the decision.
“A significant amount of collaborative planning and assessment work by both the Canadian Canoe Museum and Parks Canada had gone into preparing for the new Museum’s construction. This project would have been a very positive addition to both the Lift Lock site and the region,” Parks Canada stated.
“Given the strong connections between paddling and the Trent-Severn Waterway, Parks Canada expects to continue to work with the Canadian Canoe Museum on other potential projects.”
“We worked hard to secure $10 million in federal funds for the new Canoe Museum because it will create jobs and is an important step on the path of reconciliation,” stated Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef in an email.
“Pending the environmental assessment of the new site, and so long as the overall goals and outcomes of the project remain the same, we will continue our strong support for this important Canadian project.”