New Brunswick Museum project receives $8M in funding

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The New Brunswick Museum collections centre on Douglas Avenue in Saint John is shown in this file photo. A revitalization project is getting $8 million in government funding to go toward planning.  (Julia Wright/CBC News - image credit)
The New Brunswick Museum collections centre on Douglas Avenue in Saint John is shown in this file photo. A revitalization project is getting $8 million in government funding to go toward planning. (Julia Wright/CBC News - image credit)

The federal and provincial governments are providing more than $8 million to the planning phase for the New Brunswick Museum revitalization project.

The museum is currently closed to the public.

The provincial government is contributing $4.6 million and the federal government $3.8 million. There was a funding announcement Saturday.

"We are committed to confirming a permanent home for the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John soon, and we are taking important steps to ensure that everyone understands the complexity and full scope of this project so that we get it right," Daniel Allain, local government and local governance reform minister, said in a press release Saturday.

In the release, he said an announcement will be made in the near future related to funding for the project.

The New Brunswick Museum is spread over two buildings — an exhibit space and shop at Market Square in uptown Saint John and a collections and research centre in a much older building on Douglas Avenue in the north end.

But the museum, which got its start in 1842, lacks adequate exhibit space and has other problems including mould and a leaky roof.

New Brunswick currently has no functioning provincial museum open to the public. In January, Saint John city councillor David Hickey called on the government to change that.

A proposal to expand the museum's Douglas Avenue centre was abandoned in 2015 amid objections from neighbours concerned for the integrity of nearby Riverview Park.

A promise of $50 million from the Liberal government of Brian Gallant in 2018 to build a $100 million structure on the site of the old coast guard wharf was revoked by Blaine Higgs later that year.

What's next?

The museum planning project will include architectural design, engineering and cost details that will allow the project to move to the construction phase, according to the release.

Kathryn Hamer, New Brunswick Museum board chair, said in the release that this funding is a significant step toward the progress of a revitalized museum.

"The museum is a provincial treasure, and we are delighted to know that it will receive such strong support from both levels of government," she said in the release.

Also announced Saturday, the Acadian theatre village Le Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche will also receive funding for a renewal project — more than $14 million from the province and more than $21 million from the federal government.

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