Moncton councillors question museum costs

Some Moncton city councillors are questioning why a museum expansion project is $1 million over budget.

Some Moncton city councillors are questioning why a museum expansion project is $1 million over budget.

The Transportation Discovery Centre, an extension of the Moncton Museum, was supposed to cost $10 million to build, but the price tag is continuing to rise.

Coun. Brian Hicks said he was caught off guard when he learned the project was spilling a million dollars over budget with still a year to go.

And Hicks said he's still sorting out how it happened.

"If you asked 11 different councillors, you might get 11 different responses as to what was said. But I kind of took this as some of these items were missed," he said.

Hicks said the city does have a track record of going over budget and he said this is a concern as Moncton eyes plans for a $100-million convention centre.

Moncton councillors have investigated cost overruns at city projects in the past. In 2010, councillors called for an audit after a series of budget overruns.

For example, the University of Moncton’s stadium project overshot its budget by $4 million.

The museum project is designed to show the transportation sector’s role in shaping the city’s history.

The 1,170 square metre (12,593 square foot) centre will feature exhibition galleries, an interactive exhibit on all modes of transportation, an education centre, a gift shop, café, and an interior public plaza designed to preserve the 1916 sandstone façade of the former Moncton City Hall.

Project is ‘reasonable and explainable’

John Martin, the city's chief financial officer, said there are two places the city got dinged.

About $750,000 covers additional costs for things such as furniture, fixtures and other equipment.

The second hit came from the paving of the parking lot, which will cost about $250,000.

"Well, any overage, of course, is not what we look for and is not what we expect or anticipate," Martin said.

"This particular overage is a bit more than we had hoped. But the overall project, I think, you can consider reasonable and explainable."

Martin said the expenses will probably be covered by savings in other areas.