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Museum board has no choice but to adopt 20-20 vision
Yelling and screaming won’t accomplish much, so the members of the Osoyoos Museum Society have decided to adopt a sense of humour to mask their disappointment over not being able to move into their new home next fall.
“We’ve come up with a new slogan that reads, ‘Our vision is 20-20’,” said museum society president Mat Hassen, a week after the museum board met to discuss the decision by Town of Osoyoos council and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) to extend the lease of the Home Building Centre at its current location on Main Street in Osoyoos.
Town council passed a motion two weeks ago supporting a proposal to extend the current lease to Paul McCann, the owner of the Home Building Centre in Osoyoos, for another three years.
That motion will be presented when the RDOS board is expected to ratify the recommendation to extend the lease to the Home Building Centre until the end of 2019 at its scheduled meeting next Thursday, May 7.
The museum was scheduled to move into its new home at the current site of the Home Building Centre next fall.
However, things changed dramatically one month ago when McCann informed his staff that he was getting out of his lease early and was planning to close the retail outlet at the end of November, a full 10 months before his original lease was set to expire at the end of September next year.
After a meeting two weeks ago in Osoyoos between Mayor Sue McKortoff, senior administration from the town, McCann and Hassen, it was announced last week during the regular meeting of town council that council was supporting a motion to extend the lease to McCann until the end of December in 2019.
So instead of gaining possession of the Home Building Centre building effective Oct. 1, 2016, the earliest the museum board can take possession is in early 2020.
While the museum board remains disappointed with what has transpired, the reality is a decision has been made by community leaders to keep a viable and profitable business in town and keep 16 full-time employees on the payroll, said Hassen.
“We are disappointed, but we understand why this decision has been made and we have to carry on,” said Hassen. “We’re hoping for continued support from the community over the next three or four years … and we will continue towards our new vision of (moving into the museum’s new home) in 2020.”
There’s no use continuing to moan, groan or be frustrated because a decision has been made and isn’t going to be changed, said Hassen.
It will be business as usual for the Osoyoos Museum at its longtime home at Park Place near the Osoyoos Seniors Centre on the shore of Osoyoos Lake and the society will now alter its plans to move into its new home in early 2016, said Hassen.
The hope of everyone involved is that Home Building Centre’s head office in Ontario will commit to building a new retail outlet on land purchased near the Osoyoos Airport some time in the next three or four years, which could possibly allow the museum into its new home before 2020, said Hassen.
“We will do everything we can to remain optimistic and continue to maintain support for this long-term community asset,” he said.
Mark Pendergraft, chair of the RDOS board and representative for Rural Area A in Osoyoos, said he’s confident the board will support his motion to extend the lease for the Home Building Centre for another three years at next week’s meeting.
The decision to extend the lease came down to being unwilling to lose a profitable and successful business from leaving Osoyoos, said Pendergraft.
“At this point in time, I don’t think we have any alternative,” he said. “We need a lumber and building supply store in our community and keeping these jobs was very important. It’s just one of those things where no one envisioned things would happen like they did and we had to make a tough decision. I don’t think there’s anyone to blame in particular.”
The museum society board has worked exceptionally hard for several years to prepare a plan to move into a new home and it’s unfortunate those plans will now be delayed for several years, said Pendergraft.
“I really do feel for those folks with the museum,” he said. “They put a lot of time and effort into this. It’s upsetting for them and this isn’t something they deserved by any means.
“But I did attend the museum board’s meeting last week and was very impressed with their attitude. They are not happy, but they do understand what’s happened and are prepared to move forward.”
Pendergraft said he is also optimistic the local economy will continue to grow and Home Building Centre’s head office will commit to building a new and bigger retail outlet to serve the Osoyoos market near the airport in the near future.
“I remain hopeful they can move up to their new location as soon as possible,” he said. “That would be ideal for everyone involved.”
Hassen said he will be asking the RDOS board to include language in next week’s motion that will ensure the museum society will take possession of the building centre outlet in 2020 without any further extensions.
“We would like to have a legal document in hand that guarantees we would take possession in 2020 without any further delays,” he said.