Renovations to old BMO could cost $4-6 million

Nick Seebruch
Renovations to old BMO could cost $4-6 million
The outside of 159 Pitt St. formerly the Bank of Montreal. (Photo : Nick Seebruch/Seaway News)

CORNWALL, Ontario – In mid-May the City of Cornwall purchased the old Bank of Montreal building at 159 Pitt St. for $450,000. City administration is now recommending to Cornwall City Council that this building be converted into Cornwall’s new arts centre.

“The proposed Arts and Culture Centre project is identified as a priority within the City’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan under the Quality of Life pillar and is consistent with the Quality Downtown and Le Village Main Streets item also listed under the Quality of Life pillar,” reads an administration report to Council.

In October 2016, Council heard a recommendation from +VG Architects and Sierra Planning Management that the Civic Complex be remodeled into a new art centre, at a cost of $12 million. The same consulting firm was retained and reviewed the BMO building before it was purchased by the City and recommended that this site could also serve as an arts centre, for around half the cost.

“This “Fit Test” review concluded that the property can accommodate the program requirements for a new Arts and Culture Centre, which includes a multi-use black box theatre space that could accommodate approximately 150-200 people,” the report reads. “The review of the property also provided construction estimates for various renovation/addition scenarios which ranged between 4-6 million dollars.”

Council admits in the report that funding for this project would have to come in part from higher levels of government or from community fundraising. An example given in the report is the Benson Centre, where community organizations and businesses contributed to the construction of the facility.

Until the old BMO building is approved by council to be the new arts centre and until an adequate amount of funding is found, the building will serve other purposes.

This fall, the building will house the Election Headquarters for Cornwall’s municipal election. The City will rent the building for $5,000 for that purpose. The Election Headquarters will open Sept. 3, 2018.

Council will vote on Monday, June 25 on whether the old BMO building will become the new Cornwall Arts and Cultural Centre.

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