Federal, provincial and municipal politicians were all smiles and handshakes Wednesday as they announced millions of tax dollars will be spent on a new art gallery for Saskatoon.
The new space, to replace the aging Mendel Art Gallery, will cost an estimated $51 million and is supposed to be part of a new development in Saskatoon called River Landing.
Just over half the bill, $26 million, will be paid from provincial and federal infrastructure programs. The rest of the cost will be covered by private donations and the City of Saskatoon.
Don Atchison, Saskatoon's mayor, told reporters Wednesday some $8 million could be raised from the private sector.
"The balance of the funding will come out of our capital projects," Atchison said, referring to a City of Saskatoon fund.
He said construction on the new gallery is not expected for at least 18 months.
Atchison also opened the door on the possibility that the new art gallery would also get a new name.
"Those things we will cross later," Atchison said. "But I have to tell you: in the past, for example. we have the SaskTel Sports Centre, we have the Shaw Aquatic Centre as well. We have other things that are named like that today.
"The Mendel Art Gallery is certainly named after an individual who put monies forward as well."
Atchison added that the Mendel name would have some place in the new gallery. The existing gallery was built 40 years ago on the strength of donations from Fred Mendel, who owned a major meat-packing plant in Saskatoon.