NNSL Photo/Graphic


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Wildcat Cafe $74,000 over-budget
No windows, floor, door but still expected to open on schedule

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

The restoration of the Wildcat Cafe, budgeted at $496,200, is now expected to come in at $570,000, according to the city's 2012 draft budget.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Wildcat Cafe is still undergoing renovations despite earlier statements from city officials saying the work would be completed in the fall. Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the cafe was still expected to open for the summer season, possibly as early as May. - Galit Rodan/NNSL photo

Renovations on the 74-year-old building were expected to be complete this fall, even after the discovery of a slurry of silt beneath the structure which forced contractor Rick Muyres to abandon his original plans for the foundation, causing an approximate month-long delay.

The Wildcat, however, is currently without windows, a door and a floor. On Thursday, deputy mayor Mark Heyck said as far as he knows, work on the cafe has temporarily ceased because of difficulties installing plumbing and mechanical elements in the winter; however, Mayor Gord Van Tighem, however, said on Monday renovations are ongoing, though perhaps not on a regularly scheduled basis. Van Tighem said the work would be done by May, as scheduled.

City councilor Cory Vanthuyne acknowledged the projected cost of $570,000 but said the extra $73,800 or so "could be because of some other specific Wildcat components outside of construction that are added to that budget."

Van Tighem said he would look into the discrepancy but failed to provide an explanation by press time.

Heyck said the disassembly and reassembly of the Wildcat comprised the "vast majority" of the restoration, and has been completed. Vanthuyne, who opposed the allocation of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the project said in his view, 'restoration' was a misnomer. "We, in fact, didn't restore the old Wildcat Cafe. We've essentially built a new one," he said. "Yes, there could be a handful of the original logs that are in there," he continued, "but quite frankly it's a new foundation, new floor, new walls, new windows, new roof, new mechanical, new everything…So we paid $500,000 to get a new Wildcat, not a restored, original Wildcat."

Despite the massive renovations, Heyck said the cafe will remain a summer-only establishment. When problems with the foundation were discovered, councilors considered the possibility of renovating the cafe to the degree that it could be used all year round but the required funds were not available in the capital budget, said Heyck. Still, "I think there are a lot of people who would be interested in seeing that happen in the future," he said.

Vanthuyne said he was concerned about potential damage to the structure, which, unsecured and with no windows or door, is a potential liability, vulnerable to such threats as vandalism or fire. Though he still believes council "knee-jerked" the decision to perform the restoration, "Now that it is getting that money and getting that attention then I, like everybody else, want to see it get done as soon as possible."

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