Future of new Royal Alberta Museum unclear
Julia Parrish, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Thursday, October 27, 2011 6:57PM MDT
Less than a day after the provincial Minister of Infrastructure announced the federal government had withdrawn a $92 million contribution to a new Royal Alberta Museum – the federal government said it's still committed to the project.
Infrastructure Minister Jeff Johnson announced Wednesday evening that Ottawa had withdrawn a $92 million contribution – part of a total $340 million price tag.
"The project was always predicated on getting that other $92 million out of the Building Canada Fund," Minister Johnson said Thursday morning. "I know a lot of parties were working very hard on this over the last year,
"We were very confident that money was coming and we learned yesterday that it wasn't going to come,
"We had the director of Regional Affairs for Minister Ambrose [walk] into my office and [deliver] the news to my staff."
Now, the province said the project has been put on hold, however the province has pledged it will continue to work on securing the required funding.
"Assurances have been made by both high-ranking elected and un-elected officials that this application will proceed," Minister of Education Thomas Lukaszuk said Thursday morning. "The application is still there, it's still in Ottawa, we will be encouraging Minister Ambrose and her federal colleagues to convince [the] federal government to reconsider."
The news came as a shock to MP Rona Ambrose, who told CTV News the federal government only ever committed $30 million to the project – a sum the minister said is still on the table.
"I can assure you that we are still committed to the Royal Alberta Museum," Ambrose said in a phone interview. "We are committed to the funding that was announced on April 8,
"Which was a $30 million commitment by the Government of Canada."
Ambrose said the multi-million dollar sum was never earmarked for the project.
"I think this has been a situation of a lot of mixed messages," Ambrose said in Ottawa,
"That conversation hasn't been had with me or the Infrastructure Minister for the Federal Government."
The province said it is grateful for the $30 million commitment, but a $92 million funding gap from the federal government remains.
Johnson told CTV News the province applied for the $92 million sum three months after the initial announcement that the new Royal Alberta Museum would stand downtown was made.
"We had very good assertions or affirmations that we were going to be able to [get] this funding," Johnson said. "[We were told] that it was solid, it was going to be there."
The province said $21 million has been spent on the museum, since plans for redevelopment of the existing museum were announced six years ago - $1 million has been spent on the new museum since the new downtown location was announced in the spring.
With files from Sonia Sunger