by Chris Pickup

To the surprise of no-one closely watching Haldimand County’s affairs, the new Cayuga Library and Museum building has overrun its latest budget by some $1.26 million, to $4,075,100.  The county cites higher costs of construction and servicing based on current market prices.

Of course, if council had followed its original plan, the community would have been enjoying its new library on the village green/market square site for some five years now at a cost of $1.06 million, a mere bagatelle in the general scheme of projects the county is proposing.

The new Cayuga Library was approved for construction in 2013 for $1.06 million but it was delayed for “various reasons” according to a staff report. Two years later, the budget was increased to include 2000 sq. ft. of community space for an additional half a million dollars.

2016 marked when the whole project moved from simplicity into grandiosity. Councillor Fred Morison ”re-imagined” Cayuga’s downtown and the county budgeted an additional $600,000 to acquire the Cayuga Hotel location and demolish it, for no other reason anyone knows of than that they wanted a pretty building to spruce up Cayuga’s business district. Then costs of demolishing the hotel came in some $220,000 higher than estimated.

Also that year some bright light at the County thought it was a good idea to demolish the perfectly good Haldimand Museum and Archives and move its contents into a 1200 sq.ft. space at the end of the library building at an estimated cost of $460,000.

The whole convoluted plan crashed to a halt when rising construction prices forced the county into a redesign from the approved 7,400 sq. ft. to 6,500 sq. ft., but the cost overrun is still $1.26 million. Only God and the county knows what it was before they were scared into scaling back by 900 sq, ft. And just which one of the building’s occupants is going to suffer the loss of space?

All this has been carried out from start to finish without residents seeing hide nor hair of the plans.

The revised budget is coming up for approval at Tuesday’s council in committee meeting, and if council follows its usual course, it will be approved by a vote of 6-0.

How much simpler it would have been to build as originally planned in 2013 and leave the museum alone. But nothing this county does is simple. Are they all trying to leave a legacy? If so, it’s one of ashes and destruction.