New Brunswick

Coast guard land transfer for museum's new home expected Monday

It is still not clear which party — or combination of parties — will be governing New Brunswick in the coming weeks. But even as those negotiations continue a big land deal on the Saint John waterfront will move ahead.

Land deal approved by Gallant government moving ahead, regardless of election results

A contractor working for the City of Saint John demolishes a former Canadian Coast Guard building on Tuesday to clear the way for a proposed New Brunswick Museum building. (Julia Wright, CBC)

It is still not clear which party — or combination of parties — will be governing New Brunswick in the coming weeks. But even as those negotiations continue a big land deal on the Saint John waterfront will move ahead.

On Monday, New Brunswick's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will close on a 1.6 acre (.65 hectare) parcel of the former Canadian Coast Guard property next to Market Square.

A large utilities building on the property is currently being demolished at a cost of $368,000 to the city.

In return for delivery of the cleared property the province will pay the city $1.25 million.

That much is known.

Less certain is whether a new, $100 million New Brunswick Museum building will spring up on the site as promised last February by Liberal Premier Brian Gallant.

Gallant promised $50 million toward the museum with the federal government also expected to contribute.

"I'm still hopeful about the museum project," Saint John Mayor Don Darling said Tuesday.

"We've had no discussion with the PC party, for example, about them not being supportive of the museum. And I think that's a conversation that now needs to take place over the weeks to come."

The $100 million New Brunswick Museum home proposed for the Saint John waterfront. It's not clear whether a new provincial government can or will deliver on it. (New Brunswick Museum)

PC Leader Blaine Higgs's commitment to the museum project is not certain.

Speaking to reporters Sept. 17, he said he is concerned about the fate of the existing, 80-plus-year-old museum building on Douglas Avenue, citing a plan by the previous PC government to expand that building rather than build a new one.

He also noted the federal government has not yet committed funding to the Gallant plan for a new building.

"I'm not willing to say it's the right or wrong thing," Higgs said. "But if the federal government is not coming behind this, then it's kind of a hollow exercise as well because it isn't something the province can afford on its own."

Saint John MP Wayne Long said Tuesday that federal funding is on the way but it is up to the provincial government, Liberal or Conservative, to determine where Ottawa infrastructure money is spent.

"Technically, I put the gas in the car but the province has to turn the key," said Long.

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