$84.5M Edmonton downtown library project gets government funding infusion

The rising budget of Stanley A. Milner Library revitalisation project received funding from the federal and provincial governments on Friday.

'We’re very confident that this is the budget, $84.5 million,' says EPL CEO

A rendering shows the design of the Stanley A. Milner Library that is currently being refurbished on by construction crews. (Edmonton Public Library)

The growing cost to revitalize Edmonton's main downtown library got a shot in the arm Friday, with the federal and provincial governments each kicking in $2 million. 

The $84.5-million project at the Stanley A. Milner library was originally budgeted at $62.5 million in 2014. The tab went up to $69 million in 2016.

In September 2017, council was told the cost would go up again, after contractors discovered the building's heating system was outdated and found abandoned mechanical and electrical equipment in the roof. Hazardous materials like asbestos had to be removed.

Pilar Martinez, CEO for the Edmonton  Public Library, said she is confident the cost won't rise again.

"We're very confident that this is the budget, $84.5 million," she said.

The library has raised $80 million toward the project, including the $4-million contribution announced Friday. That means $4.5 million still has to be found. 

"We have a ways to go but we still have a year-and-a-half to raise that money before we open," said Martinez.

The inside of the Stanley A. Milner construction site that overlooks Churchill Square is lined with walkways and scaffolding. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

This is the first time the federal government has chipped in funds to the library project. Federal Minister of Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi, a former Edmonton city councillor, said the funds are intended for the overall funding of the project.

"There were some unforeseen issues with the structural integrity, as well as asbestos and other issues," Sohi said. "That's why there has been additional costs. But we're very pleased to contribute $2 million for the construction or refurbishment of this building."

The Stanley A. Milner Library is expected to open early in 2020.



Travis McEwan


Travis McEwan is an award-winning video journalist. Originally from Churchill, Man., he's spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca