By on November 7, 2012

Members of Town of Osoyoos council have given their endorsement for the board of directors from the Osoyoos Museum Society (OMS) to ask the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) board to approve $49,500 to hire an architectural firm to begin plans to expand the museum’s new home on Main Street.
Matt Hassen, the OMS’s president, told members of council Monday that any expenditures relating to the museum’s new home – to be located at the current Home Building Centre site on Main Street in Osoyoos – had to be approved by town council and the RDOS board.
The OMS has actively been seeking a new home for several years, and in 2011, local property owners in the town and RDOS approved a referendum authorizing the RDOS to purchase the Home Building Centre for the express purpose of housing the Osoyoos and District Museum and Archives, said Hassen.
The $1.26 million purchase cost is to be repaid through a parcel tax over 20 years. That tax commenced this past January. In accordance with a lease agreement, the Home Building Centre had the right to extend its lease for up to five years while head office looks for a new facility by the Osoyoos Airport, said Hassen.

By agreement, between the RDOS and OMS, the next lease revenues paid by the Home Building Centre would accumulate in a reserve fund and could be accessed by the OMS to cover capital improvement and development costs relating to the new museum, he said.
While the RDOS agreed to acquire the property and allowed access to the net lease agreements for capital improvement purposes, it has always been understood the OMS would be solely responsible for raising the remainder of the funds required to develop the building into a suitable museum and archives, including the costs relating to the design, development and installation of exhibits, said Hassen.
Most of that funding will come from accessing matching provincial and federal grants as well as numerous public and private foundations and philanthropic organizations with a commitment to history, culture and heritage, he said.
Because the OMS doesn’t know when they will be able to move into their new home, or the timeline for all phases of the project, it does want to move ahead with the initial phases of the project, so the board would like to pay its selected architectural firm to move ahead with its planning process and needs the $49,500 to pay that firm, said Hassen.
“While the latest possession date would be the end of 2016, it could very well be earlier,” he said. “In the meantime, the OMS needs to select and retain our architect and begin the planning process in order to determine the probable costs of both the building upgrades and the exhibit design/installation. When the costs and timelines are known, then applications for grants can begin accordingly.”
A total of 31 architectural firms showed interest in getting the contract to turn the Home Building Centre into the new museum and seven replied to the tender contract and three were shortlisted before the board decided to award the tender to Bonni-Madison Architects, said Hassen. David Jensen, a museum designer, will work with Bonni-Madison on a pre-design and schematic design, officially recognized as Phase I and Phase 2, at a cost of $49,500, with the time frame to complete these phases estimated to be four-to-five months, he said.
“The architect and a team of sub-contractors will assess all the aspects of the existing facility, identify what will need to be done to make it suitable for a museum and archives, identify the costs and alternatives, develop preliminary designs and drawings, make recommendations for discussion and consideration and present a proposed budget for the capital improvement of the building,” said Hassen.
“In addition to standard matters like structural upgrades, mechanical, lighting, fire suppression and security … the architect will provide costs and designs for such things as the construction of a reception area, gift shop area, a climate-controlled archive room, a multi-purpose room, handicap-accessible washrooms, a kitchenette, office space, storage area, a lift to provide access between floors, plus possible designs for the outside area to the west of the building and removal of extraneous outside structures.”
The museum designer and his team will work with the architects to familiarize themselves with the existing collection, conduct a public consultation process in the community regarding what stakeholders envision for the new museum and develop preliminary sketches, proposals and alternate plans regarding the design of the exhibits, along with projected costs, he said.
Once the plans and budgets for both the building and exhibits are finalized in the next few months, the total amount of funding required will be known and applications for funding can begin, he said.
The OMS can’t proceed to apply for major funding until it knows the likely possession date because almost all sources of matching grants want to see committed budgets and timelines for the project and be assured any grant money can, and will be, used within specific timelines, he said.
Mayor Stu Wells said no one knows when Home Builders is going to move into its new location near the airport, but he’s glad the OMS continues to work diligently to have everything in place once that announcement is made.
He didn’t see any problems with council approving the request to have $49,500 transferred from the Osoyoos Museum Debt Reserve Fund, contingent on the RDOS board giving final approval during its meeting next week.
Hassen promised members of council the OMS will keep councillors and members of the public aware of any major development and expenditure of funds as the process continues in moving into its new home.

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