New details about cost and timeline for an ambitious riverfront design contest has city staff set to ask the planning committee to double the budget.

Next week, staff will ask the planning committee for more money for the inaugural project being spearheaded by the London Community Foundation (LCF).

They are looking to see this year's funding for the winning entry at the Forks of the Thames or Harris Park doubled to $200,000.

That would make the project shovel-ready by 2016, but construction would still require another $5 million, which proponents say should be set aside by council so the winning design doesn't end up sitting on a shelf.

The 'Back to the River' design project was launched just three weeks ago, and already interest has come from hundreds of companies from all around the world.

So far there have been 309 inquiries, but only a handful of qualified companies will be chosen to submit designs to enhance London's riverfront from Oxford to Adelaide streets with a series of projects.

The response has surprised even the biggest supporters of the design competition.

Martha Powell, president and CEO of LCF, says,"The importance of the inaugural project is to set the stage for what it's going to look like, the whole vision."

But it's not cheap.

Andrew McPherson, manager of parks planning for the city, adds, "We have put forward a request for $5 million in the four-year capital budget that council will consider among all their other priorities."

City council begins setting priorities in its first ever multi-year budget process next month, which is expected to be difficult given the long wishlist of projects.

But proponents point to other cities where riverfront investments have attracted much larger private developments, and consider the $5 million an investment.

Powell says, "[It's] an investment not just of dollars but of community commitment and civic pride. Certainly our foundation will be looking to private donors and contributors to support what the city is able to put in."

McPherson cites Pittsburgh as an example, where for every dollar invested by the city in the riverfront, $32 of private investment was attracted to the river valley.

Five public consultation meetings taking place across the city for Londoners to provide their input:

  • June 2nd, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Central Library, Stevenson Hunt room
  • June 9th, 2015 at 2 p.m. at Central Library, Stevenson Hunt room
  • June 10th, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. at Goodwill Industries
  • June 10th, 2015 at 7 p.m. at N'Amerind Friendship Centre
  • June 20th, 2015 at 10 a.m. at Kinsmen Community Centre

To register you can visit the London Community Foundation website.