Price tag for Ottawa's new main library at LeBreton Flats jumps by $131 million

The Ottawa Public Library Board received a look at the design for the new Ottawa Public Library main branch and Library and Archives Canada. (Photo courtesy: Diamond Schmitt Architects)

The cost to build Ottawa's new central library at LeBreton Flats has increased by $131-million as the project is hit by escalating construction costs.

A report for the finance and economic development committee says the city of Ottawa needs to cover an additional $65 million to build the new super library project between the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

The new library, named 'Adisoke', was originally expected to cost $175 million, with the city covering $104 million, plus an additional $18 million for an underground parking garage.

After the city reviewed the bids from the two pre-qualified general contractors, the price tag is now $334 million including the cost of the parking garage. The cost of the parking garage jumped an extra $10 million to $28 million.

Staff say the two bids from EllisDon and PCL Construction, include the fixed price proposed for the facility.

"The low-price bid from PCL Construction results in an increase of $64 million to the OPL/City costs of the building, from $104 million to $168 million (not including parking and retail fit-up costs, which are recoverable through revenue, or City’s capital budget transfer)," says a report for the Ottawa Public Library Board.

Staff say the difference between the initial estimate of $193 million and the actual cost of $334 million can be directly attributed to an escalation in the construction market.

"Canada is experiencing a significant increase in construction costs due to COVID-19 impacts," said the report.

"A combination of material shortages and commodity escalation, supply chain slowdowns and pressures, labour implications and a superheated construction market, have all been described by the Ottawa Construction Association (OCA) and observed in recent City tenders."

City staff recommend borrowing $36 million, using library surplus funds and tap into an additional $12 million from the library city-wide development charges to help cover the additonal costs.

The finance and economic development committee is being asked to approve an additional $1.2 million for food and beverage spaces, which staff say will be recovered through retail revenues.

The report also says the new Adisoke is now scheduled to reopen in mid-2026 instead of the initial plan of 2025.

Both the Ottawa Public Library Board and the finance and economic development committee will discuss the issues on Tuesday.