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Feds silent on details

Taxpayers shelled out $1.95 million for Canadian Tire property

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 09/02) - The federal government is being guarded about details of its plan for a downtown city property.

On Dec. 20, 2001, the government paid $1.95 million for the Franklin Avenue Canadian Tire property.

Although the purchase price is public information readily available at the land titles office, last week the Department of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) would not release the figure.

Dept. spokesperson Donna Kinley said that because it is a "commercial" transaction, the price of the property could not be revealed without permission of the other parties involved.

Initially, the department would not release how much is budgeted for the project. Kinley later said only "less than $20 million" is to be spent.

The government plans to demolish the Canadian Tire building that sits on the property and build a 5,500 square metre office building.

"It's not going to be a high-rise. It's anticipated that the maximum floors would be about four. Without the design concepts it's hard to say."

Kinley said revealing the total budget for the project could compromise the tendering of demolition, design and construction contracts as bidders may adjust their bids upwards.

Tender calls for demolition and design will be issued this month and next, Kinley said. Demolition is to begin in April and be completed by June. The department hopes to have a design for the new building completed by early next winter.

PWGSC is aiming to have the building ready for occupancy by the fall of 2004.

Though the government is certain it will need the additional office space, Kinley said it does not yet know what departments will use it.

"As existing leases expire and individual (federal) clients' needs are identified, we will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis," Kinley said.

Kinley said the department is determined to salvage the murals that exist on the exterior of the Canadian Tire building, and is working with artist Dawn Oman on a number of solutions.

An engineering survey of the wall was conducted last week to determine how difficult it will be to save the murals.