The City of Toronto has cut more than $11-million in planned upgrades to Nathan Phillips Square to come in under its $60-million budget, according to a city staff report.
The cuts, detailed in a report for the city's government management committee, come after the budget for the project has already ballooned from $42-million to the current approved cost of $60-million.
The Nathan Phillips Square revitalization project broke ground in 2010, and was supposed to turn the area outside Toronto's City Hall into one of the world's foremost public spaces. But the project has been mired in delays and other issues.
"The original design competition identified project elements that the project budget subsequently could not sustain or afford," the report from the city's chief corporate officer Josie Scioli says.
Mayor John Tory, who often cited the Nathan Phillips project during his election campaign as an example of the city's financial mismanagement, called the results "not acceptable."
"Whatever the explanation turns out to be with these projects that get two-thirds done for all the money – or get done and then they come and tell you later they spent way more than they planned – it's not acceptable," he said. "It's not businesslike."
Upgrades to the square's access to PATH, the demolition of a pedestrian bridge between the square and the Sheraton Centre, and a proposed standalone restaurant in the square will not proceed. The project is scheduled for "substantial completion" by the end of the year.
The report will be discussed by the city's government management committee in January. At the same meeting, the committee will again look at the possibility of evicting Café on the Square – the company that operates the City Hall cafeteria. The cafe owes $217,770 in unpaid maintenance costs, and $140,000 in promised renovations.
The owners of the café have said that they cannot afford the amount, and that, when renewing their lease with the city, they "missed" the fact that their maintenance costs would increase dramatically.
Mr. Tory called the situation "sad," but said the cafe's owners should be treated like any other business. "If everybody else in the world didn't pay their rent or pay their bills, what would happen to them?"