SAINT JOHN – The New Brunswick Museum will be housed in a new building on the former Canadian Coast Guard site on the waterfront in Uptown Saint John, Premier Brian Gallant announced Thursday.
“The province has agreed to purchase a portion the property [from the city] and contribute $50 million to the construction of a new building, which will merge the collections in the building on Douglas Avenue with the current public exhibits and activities that take place in the Market Square location,” said Gallant in a press conference at the New Brunswick Museum at Market Square.
“The construction of a new facility will bring all components under one roof and we want it to be in the uptown area. By investing in this cultural infrastructure we are stimulating economic growth, supporting the uptown core of Saint John, and improving the experience of tourists.”
There are no early estimates of the total cost of the new building, but Gallant said the province will be looking to the federal government for financial assistance.
“We’re very confident there will be federal funding,” said Gallant. “At this point, it’s a question of how much. So we’re going to continue to work with our counterparts in Ottawa. [Saint John-Rothesay MP] Wayne Long is a strong advocate to make sure we get an investment from the federal government.”
Long, who has an office overlooking the proposed site, called the chosen site “transformational” as a piece of cultural infrastructure in Uptown Saint John.
“My expectation is that Ottawa will come to the table,” said Long, who said discussions are ongoing. “The question of how much remains to be seen.”
Long says the federal government will settle on an amount as more details of a plan are put in place, and he says choosing a location is an important step along the way toward securing that funding.
Shannon Merrifield, chair of the board of the museum, says the announcement of the chosen site is a great day for the city and for the province.
“As we stand here today, I can’t help but think of the ongoing Olympic Games,” said Merrifield. “I have to say, today is a Gold Medal day for Saint John and New Brunswick…It’s a huge step toward much-needed new museum facilities.”
Merrifield says the uptown location will be a “beacon” in a culturally and economically vibrant city centre.
“This chosen site, in the heart of historic Saint John, is an ideal new home for the New Brunswick Museum,” she said. “The energy of the uptown and the excitement of experiencing our natural history and human heritage in a new museum facility will feed off each other, increasing cultural tourism and commercial activity.”
Saint John mayor Don Darling says the decision means the museum will remain in Saint John to be enjoyed by tourists and residents.
“This project not only ensures that the New Brunswick Museum will continue to call Saint John home for generations to come, but it is a prime and strategic site for its development that provides easy access to residents and visitors to share our rich culture and history.”
Darling also says the new location will spur further residential and commercial activity in the Uptown, which has been the fastest growing part of the city in recent years.
“The construction of an iconic building on the city’s waterfront will not only leverage further private sector investment for residential and mixed uses on the former Coast Guard site but other areas of the Uptown as well.”
As of yet, there is no timetable for the design and construction of the new facility.