Surging Niagara Costs

Costs for a proposed amphitheatre in Ontario near the U.S. border at Niagara Falls are climbing amid discussions of nearly $20 million in necessary site improvements before the project can get off the ground.

What was initially pitched as a $50 million summer home in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and an annual 12-week music festival could ring up at more than $70 million after upgrading infrastructure at the site, the Standard of St. Catharines reported.

Public works commissioner Ken Brothers recently advised city council members it would cost $15 million initially to move two regional sewage lagoons from the location and build a new sewage treatment plant, the paper said.

"That’s the price of doing business if you move [sewage treatment] off the site," Brothers said, adding that an additional $5.6 million would be needed to upgrade roads around the site.

Located on the Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site – a War of 1812 landing zone – the proposed open-air shed could host up to 60 concerts per year and reportedly seat 2,400, with additional lawn seating for 7,000 to 9,000.

Despite the mounting costs, Brothers recommended that council members approve a $400,000 environmental assessment of the site, as the project could qualify for provincial and federal funding, the paper said.

But Mayor Bill Hodgson wasn’t sold on the shed, which he said was becoming too expensive as proposed.

"This is money we’d have to spend that we otherwise would not have to spend," Hodgson told the Standard. "Surely there are other locations."