The future of the downtown Galleria Arts District is uncertain after councillors gave conditional support Tuesday to a funding request from the foundation behind the project.
The Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Foundation wants to build a $30 million pedway to the Royal Alberta Museum.
City council agreed to support the project, but only if the costs are shared with businesses that will benefit from the pedway.
“I think it struck us all as a little bit challenging that we're being asked to put in five per cent up front,” Coun. Scott McKeen said.
“So why is the city the make or break decision maker on a billion dollar project?"
Council was asked to commit $4.4 million immediately to pay for the pedway design. Another $5.3 million is requested in 2015 to build the shell under the museum.
McKeen wants the federal and provincial governments to make commitments before the city agrees to that funding.
"We don't want to rough-in a pedway for $10 million and not have this project go ahead," he said. "We need some others to step up and give us some comfort."
The foundation claims they need the money immediately so the pedway is added when that section of the new museum is under construction.
Jim Brown, one of the foundation’s directors, doesn't know what council's decision means for the project.
“Till we understand what this one means, again, we're in a bit of a limbo I guess,” he said.
The province has been in discussions with the proponents of the project, said interim premier Dave Hancock.
"Part of that proposal is with respect to fundraising they're planning to do and there's discussion around whether that fundraising could and should be matched," he said.
"And there's obviously discussions about the university being there and if the university builds a building, they would get the money from us," Hancock said..
The Galleria arts project would include four performing arts theatres, a public space with restaurants and stores and an office tower. The University of Alberta would also bring 5,000 students.
The foundation would like the Galleria open by July 1, 2017, to coincide with 150th anniversary of Confederation.