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Osoyoos Museum board confident new home will open to public in spring of 2017
Council told Phase One of major project will include major renovations to Home Hardware building
There’s plenty of work that needs to be done and a great deal of money to be raised, but the sparkling new home of the Osoyoos Museum will open to the public in just over two years from now.
Mat Hassen, the chair of the board of directors with the Osoyoos Museum Society and Archives, told members of Town of Osoyoos council on Monday that the board will take possession of the current Home Hardware Building Centre building on Main Street next October. He and the board have every confidence all the changes needed to bring the building up to provincial codes and standards will be finished to allow for the museum to be open to the public in the spring of 2017, said Hassen.
“Opening in the spring of 2017 remains our goal,” he said.
A consultant’s report prepared last year indicated the total costs to turn the museum into a state-of-the-art facility would be in the neighbourhood of $4.5 million, said Hassen.
“We were quite surprised by that … it’s clearly beyond what we could really afford,” he said.
The board made a decision to upgrade the facility in different phases with the majority of the $1.85 million first phase going towards “bricks and mortar projects” to bring the building up to provincial building code standards, said Hassen.
The museum will eventually feature more than 6,000 square meters of floor space over two storeys and phase one will include building the public gallery on the main floor, he said.
Planned renovations during Phase One will include an upgraded and artistic main entrance upgrade, small gift shop and kitchenette area, boardroom and meeting rooms, elevator from the basement to the first and second floors, roof upgrade, solar panel heating system on the roof, new mezzanine and archive room in the basement, said Hassen.
Planning also calls for more than 20 displays to be ready for the opening weekend two years from now, he said.
Exhibit planning will be based on showcasing the long and proud history of this community featuring the faces and voices of the area, while retaining the “small town feel” of Osoyoos, he said.
Because they are moving into a new home, the plan is to totally refresh current displays, reconfigure selected exhibits and continually add new exhibits and themes, he said.
Construction costs for Phase One have been budgeted at $1.55 million, with a $232,000 contingency fund and extra allowance of $72,000 for total construction estimates of $1.857 million.
That doesn’t include a budget of $185,000 for professional fees and $23,000 for permits and surveys, he said.
Fundraising efforts so far have helped generate more than $1.2 million through grants, sponsorships and donations, he said.
Money will also be raised through “naming rights” to the museum and continuing to apply for funding from different programs, foundations, corporations, groups and individuals.
“The initial primary focus will be on bricks and mortar funds,” he said.
The board promised to not ask local taxpayers to pay any of the costs involved in this project and that hasn’t changed as the board will not be asking council to pay for this new museum through general taxes, said Hassen.
However, the museum society needs and welcomes community support and involvement in relation to time, expertise and personal contributions, both financially and in-kind, he said.
“This is the community’s museum, not the society’s museum,” he said. “We can’t borrow money and we’ll have to do with what we raise.
“We are looking for peoples’ time and we are looking for their expertise. We need their time. We need their talent and we need their expertise.”
A big challenge is applying for arts and culture grants as senior levels of government provide only two to three per cent of all grant money to arts and cultural organizations like the Osoyoos Museum, he said.
The museum will be holding four community events in the coming weeks to promote the museum and board members and staff will be able to discuss with the public their plans for moving into their new home in less than two years.
This week is Heritage Week in British Columbia and there is free admission for all visitors to the Osoyoos Museum until end of business on Friday.
An official community fundraising launch and open house will be held on March 28. The museum will be celebrating its 52nd birthday and will hold another open house on June 13. A Species at Risk day camp will be held the week of Aug. 10-15.
Mayor Sue McKortoff thanked Hassen and his fellow board members for working so hard to make the dream of a new home for the museum a reality.
Anyone making a donation to the fundraising efforts of the museum board will be issued a tax receipt, said Hassen.
A new “fundraising thermometer” will soon be installed outside the Home Hardware building to keep the public aware of how much money has been raised and how much more is needed.