St. Lawrence Market’s new building will now cost more than $100 million

Redevelopment of the market’s north building was delayed by extensive archeological work but is now set to be completed in 2020.

The cost for the St. Lawrence Market’s long awaited north building has surpassed the $100 million mark, with construction expected to begin this spring.

Toronto council originally approved a $75 million budget in 2008 for the redevelopment of the historic site. A decade later the cost has increased to $102 million, most recently because construction bids were more than city staff anticipated and extensive archeological work delayed the project 14 months, according to a staff report. City staff also increased the contingency fund to handle unexpected costs that might pop up.

These costs total $9.5 million and were approved by council at its budget meeting this month. Councillor Lucy Troisi (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) said the new market building will be worth the increased budget.

“It’s not just a neighbourhood market, it’s one of the gems of the city,” Troisi said. “The built heritage of Old Toronto is very fragmented so it is very important to have places that celebrate that history.”

The idea to redevelop the St. Lawrence market’s north building was pitched to council in 2002. A staff report from that time described the north building as “cheaply constructed and not built for a ‘market’ style use.’”

“The north market was a vibrant destination throughout the week but was certainly underutilized,” Troisi said. “This new market is designed to be attractive for tradeshows, events, receptions and a café. That will keep the market very busy.”

This is not the first time the north building has been reconstructed, said the report. The first of its kind was built around 1850, rebuilt in 1904, and again in 1968. The market has operated in the area of the north building since 1820.

Because of the historical significance of the site, the province ordered an archeological dig that began in September 2015 and ended in April 2017, causing a delay in construction. Archeologists unearthed 15,000 artifacts.

One of the major findings was an 1831 central drain that will be highlighted at a viewing area, accompanied by video and text displays that “will tell the story of the market,” Torisi said.

Following a “competitive process,” the city expects to award the construction contract by March 2018 and complete the building in late 2020, said spokesperson Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins.

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