Library/museum plan scrapped 

Library hopes to start construction in the spring, while museum may move into conference centre

The municipality has scrapped the plans for the $10 million library/museum and is looking to build a library facility only at the original site.

Another opportunity has come up where the museum could go into the newly renovated conference centre.

"The direction that council has given is to start to work with the library, see what we can do with their site... and at the same time there’s another opportunity that just emerged for the museum that we want to investigate," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

This new direction is a departure from plans that were developed over the past year and a half that would have seen a $10 million joint library/museum facility built in the parking lot in the Main Street loop, adjacent to where the library and museum now sit in trailers. Half the money for that building was to come from the municipality with the other half from fundraising by a capital campaign.

But when a year of fundraising produced less than $750,000 – and most of that coming from the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation – the plans were put on hold.

Anne Fenwick, chair of the library board, has been waiting throughout the summer for a decision from the municipality and is very supportive of council’s new direction.

"I think it’s a good move," she said.

"I think we realized that the joint facility as planned was more money than could be managed at this time due to the problems with fundraising. And so there was obviously need for some changes to be made.

"With the buildings being split we can move forward with the library, which is the more urgent need."

Representatives from the museum board could not be reached for comment.

Since April 2002 the municipality spent $500,000 developing the plans for the $10 million library/museum building.

"We were working with the library/museum and they had a high degree of confidence that all their research has said that they could fundraise," said O’Reilly.

"We were prepared to put our money in so we went ahead and started investing money in that project."

Over the course of the year, the architects developed extensive plans for the building and had completed the project brief.

"The project brief is a document which spells out very clearly all of the components of the building, what it’s going to look like, how it’s planned," said Gerry Longson, development services manager at B.C. Buildings Corporation, which was involved in the development of the joint library/museum.

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