06/18/2013 03:44 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT

More funds needed to revamp St. Lawrence building

It's going to cost at least $16 million more than previously expected to revamp a property associated with the St. Lawrence Market, though a downtown councilllor says the completed project will be beneficial for the city.

Plans to redevelop the St. Lawrence Market North building, which is located on the northwest corner of Front and Jarvis streets, have been in the works for years.

The current one-storey building was built 45 years ago. The city believes that redeveloping the building will yield a bigger payoff for the public.

It was in 2002 that council first asked staff to study the options for revamping the site. Six years later, council endorsed a plan to build a new building that would incorporate a market, as well as new courtroom and parking facilities.

In the 2010 capital budget and 2011-2019 capital plan, the city had approved an estimated budget of nearly $75 million. But that figure has now climbed to more than $91 million.

When speaking with CBC Radio's Metro Morning, Coun. Pam McConnell said the increased costs are the result of several factors, though she said that the traffic courts and the parking at the revamped site will help generate income for the city.

But McConnell said that "at the end of the day, we have to decide: Are we going to build a city, or are we just going to say no? And the cost of saying no is very, very costly."

In July, city council is due to consider a staff report on the revitalization project, which recommends that the city continue with design work and refer the proposed budget adjustments to the 2014 capital budget process.

Too much downtown spending?

Coun. Doug Ford was critical of the costs associated with the planned revamp of the St. Lawrence Market North building, telling reporters yesterday that much more money goes into downtown projects compared to initiatives in other parts of the city.

"We're going out and we're spending a disproportionate amount of money on downtown all the time," he said.

But McConnell said that the revitalization of a major tourist attraction should not be reduced to an us-versus-them type of discussion that she suggested has been a recurring theme on council in recent years.

"It doesn't have to be that way, but that kind of jealousy, and not understanding the process or what's happening, is very indicative of what's been happening over the last few years of council," she said.