The Town of Ladysmith has hit a snag with its “waterfront Artist Studio” project, after the cost of the project ballooned in price.
The town said it hired a consultant to prepare a cost estimate for the project in December 2022, before opening up bids for construction of the art studio, located near Slack Point, in August 2023.
Six bids that complied with the project were sent to the town, but the average cost of each of the bids “exceeded the town’s budget by over 200 per cent,” according to the municipality.
The town had recently received a $3.3 million grant from the federal government to build the studio, as well as other arts-related aspects of its “Waterfront Area Plan.”
It also received another $299,200 from the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital and Innovation Program for the project.
On Wednesday, the town said that after receiving the pricey estimates from developers it cancelled the tender for the project.
However, that doesn’t mean the artist studio element of the waterfront plan has been shut down altogether.
The town says it is holding on to the funding that was dedicated for the studio and is working on next steps.
The town says local governments across the board have found “significant inflationary cost increases for similar projects of this scale.”
That’s certainly true in Sidney, where council decided to move forward with a new public washroom project, despite construction costs doubling in price from about $430,000 last year to $810,000 this year.
Ladysmith council says it has directed staff to speak with its funders about the next steps.
“Despite the bids exceeding the town’s budget, council is proud of the design and value in the work done to date, such as the collaboration among project steering committee members and as well as with Stz’uminus Elders,” said Ladysmith in a release Wednesday.
Other aspects of the town’s long-term plan for the waterfront area include infrastructure upgrades, shore remediation and stabilization, and creating “destination” buildings for shopping, gathering and more.
Correction: A previous version of this story said the artist studio had been cancelled due to the pricey bids. However, the town only cancelled the tender for the project and made no final decision on the artist studio as of Oct. 27, 2023.