Two of the three levels of government have officially declined a request for more money for the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
While the provincial government has yet to make a decision on additional capital funding, the federal government and the City of Winnipeg have both been approached for funding beyond their original contributions -- $100 million and $20 million, respectively -- but both have denied the request in no uncertain terms.
"They definitely asked for more money. I think the City of Winnipeg has made a significant contribution ... between our cash contribution and our services in kind it was about $20 million. That's a significant contribution to a significant project. I basically told them they should continue to go out there and find private sector money," Mayor Sam Katz told the Winnipeg Sun.
Federal Treasury Board President Vic Toews expressed a similar opinion.
"The government of Canada has been very clear in its discussions with the Friends of the Museum that the federal government will not be contributing additional capital funds for this project," Toews said. "I believe that the $100-million capital contribution and the multi-million dollar commitment to ongoing operational expenses is a very generous expression of our government's commitment to this project."
Toews declined to say when the museum's backers last asked for more money, but a source said a few months ago they did approach Ottawa with a request for more capital funding and were denied.
A spokesman for Premier Greg Selinger said the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights have asked the province for more capital funding beyond its initial $40 million contribution. The province is still considering the request and discussions are ongoing, he said.
Last summer Friends campaign chair Gail Asper said she would be going back to all levels of government and asking them to contribute to help make up for a $45-million shortfall in capital that the museum determined last spring it will need on top of its original $265 million estimate, largely due to inflation in construction materials and labour.
Asper said she would be asking for amounts similar to the ratio of the original contributions, meaning about $3 million from the city, $7 million from the province and about $17 million from Ottawa.
The Friends have privately raised $7 million of the additional $45 million to date, for a private sector total of $112 million.
Angela Cassie, director of communications and public engagement with the museum, said fundraisers are still speaking with all of the original donors, including the city, the feds and the province.
"We're continuing those conversations. In the meantime, what we're finding is the private sector is leading the way, which is a really important signal to all of our original funders," she said.
"We still have a lot of confidence this is completely achievable. Of course we want these original stakeholders to be part of it."