The $9.5 million project to convert a former church into Lachute’s new public library has been put on hold due to challenges with the cost of construction.

At its November 2 meeting, the municipal council rejected the submissions by contractors for the final phase of construction. Due to the uncertain situation due to COVID-19 and related rising costs of construction materials, council decided to postpone the work of converting the old United Church building on rue Principale into a library for an indefinite period.  The new library was originally to be completed by the end of 2020.

The pandemic has been responsible for the increase in costs and delays.  The bids received following the call for tenders exceeded the budget initially set, and nearly 40 per cent of the bids were unanimously rejected by council. The significant increase in these costs is largely due to higher material costs, reduced productivity, and labour availability due to COVID-19.

The deadline will also allow for the new library to open after the pandemic.  After analyzing potential financial scenarios and considering the situation, council decided that the most beneficial decision is to postpone the project while continuing other work on the file. That approach will also allow the municipality to take steps to obtain additional funding to reduce the costs of the project.

“A rejection of bids does not mean stopping the project, far from it. The library project is close to our hearts and we know that the same is true for the people, but not at any cost. We are convinced that this decision is the best in the circumstances and that it demonstrates our desire to ensure sound and optimal management of public money,” said Lachute, Mayor Carl Péloquin.

The last expenditure approved by Lachute council for the library project was $17,315 on July 6 for interior demolition and decontamination in the former church building