RMOW budgets for entire cost of library/museum 

The municipality has budgeted to pay for the entire cost of the proposed $10 million library/museum if fundraising efforts fail, according to the recently-released 2003 Five Year Financial Plan.

But Mayor Hugh O’Reilly stressed that council has still only approved funding roughly half of the building at this time.

"Right now our commitment to date is where it’s always been, at $4.5 million," he said.

The Five Year Financial Plan paints another scenario that would see the municipality fund the entire cost of the new building, but over a number of years. In that plan, which was approved by council about two weeks ago, the municipality has prepared a budget that sees a library/museum built with no help from fundraising or external grants.

Instead, the $10 million building would be constructed – likely in phases – with funds from the hotel tax, the general capital reserve and the recreation works charges.

"Because of the uncertainty with respect to the fundraising campaign, what we wanted to do was to present a spreadsheet that showed the municipality funding the construction without any external grants or fundraising program," said John Nelson, general manager of corporate services with the municipality.

"It really stresses all our other capital projects because it comes out of the same box, the same reserve."

The fundraising efforts of the museum/library have been floundering since the campaign kicked off last year.

At that time the committee was charged with raising the second $5 million. Construction could begin after the committee reached the $3 million mark, for a total of $8 million.

But after a year of hard work, the campaign sits at $240,000.

Anne Fenwick, chair of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, said the fundraising didn’t go as expected due to a number of reasons.

"The general economic uncertainty is the main reason I feel that the fundraising has not been as successful and we’re not unique with this. There are a number of major fundraising campaigns that have not been nearly as successful as they usually are."

Earlier this year the committee approached council for help and direction when they realized they were not reaching their fundraising goals any time soon.

Since then, the municipality has been revisiting their strategy for the $10 million library/museum building, which is planned for the existing library/museum site, replacing the old trailers.

In the Five Year Plan the building is phased over the course of five years and would not be finished until 2008.

"Without borrowing we could not do the project today jointly," said O’Reilly.

"We’re just not in a position to do that."

The spreadsheet shows just over $5 million going into the library construction during 2004 and 2005. The museum construction, valued at just under $4.5 million, would take place over 2007 and 2008.

"(The museum) doesn’t have the same sense of urgency that the library has," said O’Reilly.

"They really feel that they’ve been under a lot of pressure to move to a new facility for a number of years. The museum believes that they have the opportunity to grow into a new museum."

The mayor also said there could be opportunities for the museum with the 2010 Olympics, if they are awarded to Vancouver and Whistler.

"I think the museum is probably more susceptible or more likely to get funding that they weren’t able to access if we were to win the Olympics.

"There’s no budget line item in the 2010 bid right now for a museum. The flip-side is I’ve never been to a venue site that didn’t have one."

Although the Five Year Plan shows the municipality paying for the whole project, the mayor said council has not made any decisions yet.

"If the community chooses, we can probably do some more in a longer time frame but we have to talk to the two groups (the library and museum boards,)" he said.

"Council really hasn’t had a chance to look at the options."

Likewise Fenwick said the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, along with the municipality, is still examining the future and deciding what to do about the campaign.

She said: "I would anticipate there will be fundraising. Whether it’s in the same form or not I can’t say at this stage."

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