Will the Place des Pionniers be left hanging?
On May 7th Le Droit reported that the $100M Guertin Arena’s opening has been pushed back indefinitely due to a lack of funds -- largely caused by the financial impacts of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Given the very elevated costs of Place des Pionniers ($44M at present) and the substantial financial uncertainty for cities as we face the economic fallout from COVID-19 (Vancouver’s mayor recently said his city could enter bankruptcy), does Gatineau have enough funds secured to ensure that we can cover unforeseen extra costs for Place des Pionniers over the next 5 years or more? Otherwise, a similar fate to that of Guertin might await Aylmer, with an unfinished building idling in the middle of Rue Principale for months or even years.
The IMF and World Bank expect the coming financial crisis to be the deepest since the great depression. Yet the city insists on this expensive project, assuming business as usual. A worst case scenario for Place des Pionniers would be what’s happening to Guertin. Given the uncertainty everywhere, can the city guarantee that they won’t run out of funds part-way through the project, leaving all of Rue Principale with an unfinished building and no library or services centre?
I know that Guertin involves a greater private sector contribution, but cities aren’t able to just print money. And the population’s ability to endure tax increases is limited, especially in a severe economic downturn. There could be far more pressing financial concerns for Gatineau a few years from now than finishing up Place des Pionniers. And all of Aylmer would pay the price.