Fredericton mayor says city taking new approach to fund performing arts centre

·3 min read
A concept design of the proposed performing arts centre, by Diamond Schmitt Architects in Toronto.  (City of Fredericton - image credit)
A concept design of the proposed performing arts centre, by Diamond Schmitt Architects in Toronto. (City of Fredericton - image credit)

For years, the effort to build a new performing arts centre in Fredericton has struggled to gain traction with other levels of government.

It was first put at the top of the city's capital project priorities list in 2014, with the municipality committing $14 million of the nearly $45 million estimated for the project.

Since then it's been the city's hope that other levels of government would pitch in $14 million each to make the new construction happen, but neither the provincial or federal governments have offered funding.

"This 14, 14, 14, this neat and tidy little formula that we came up with, that each level of government would give their fair share, we just realized that it wasn't resonating at other levels of government in the same way," said Mayor Kate Rogers.

Rogers said the premier wrote a letter in the fall denying the funding.

"The premier was quite clear in a letter he wrote this fall that their position is always to fund needs not wants," said Mayor Kate Rogers.

Rogers said the plan now is to go after provincial and federal funding for "needs" by applying for funding for infrastructure renewal projects through programs at both levels of government. Rogers said the city would then put the money it set aside for those capital projects toward the performing arts centre.

"We have a lot of wastewater, water and sewer projects that are very, very expensive and there are a lot of funds that are available for those types of projects. And we'd been using our own funding to fund those projects. We thought, 'Well, instead, maybe we try to get those projects funded, freeing up some money to then go towards the performing arts centre'."

"It's sort of just rethinking how it is that we finance different projects," she said.

The city's water and sewer capital budget for 2022 is $11.7 million. Rogers couldn't say how many applications have been made to fund those projects or how much of that money could eventually be put toward the arts centre.

"We won't know for certain how much of that we'll need, how much money we'll need to come up with until we see how successful these various applications are," she said, adding that the Playhouse will be carrying out a campaign to also raise money.


The change of approach doesn't need formal council approval, she said.

"We've prepared the applications. If we're successful in funding, it will just free up money in the capital budget. That's all."

Last year council voted to spend $1.1 million to hire architects to begin the design process for the performing arts centre.

Originally, the plan was to build it on the site of the current Playhouse.

But earlier this year, the city bought a large chunk of downtown land for $8.2 million, which was then earmarked for the new site of the arts centre. That deal included selling part of that land to the province for the new courthouse.

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