February 10, 2016 - 2:30 PM
PENTICTON - Plans by the city to look into consolidating some of its facilities under one roof at the Trade and Convention Centre caught one of those facility operators by surprise last week.
Art Gallery Curator and Director Paul Crawford says he was shocked to hear a city staffer talk about moving the art gallery while at a meeting last Thursday, Feb. 4.
“No one from the city has come by to talk to us yet,” Crawford says, adding he first heard about plans to move city services into the Trade and Convention Centre through the media about two weeks ago.
Last Thursday, Crawford was invited to the En’owkin Centre on the Penticton Indian Band reserve to discuss a proposal with them. While there, he spoke to City of Penticton General Manager of Infrastructure Mitch Moroziuk, who was also in attendance.
“Halfway through the meeting, discussing various ideas and such, Mitch just said, ‘Oh, you know we haven’t yet discussed it, but when the art gallery moves...’ and I kind of went, well, hold it, let’s just stop here,” Crawford says. "I wanted to know why it hadn’t been discussed with us, but again, he just threw it out so casually, I just said, ‘Hey, let’s just stop this meeting now.’”
Crawford says he finds it insulting the city is talking about moving the art gallery as though it was a fait accompli.
“We’re not a department of the city, we’re an independent society. We own the building, the art gallery society fund raised and paid to have this building constructed in 1985,” he says, adding the art gallery helped to change the landscape around that part of Okanagan Lake waterfront, which he refers to as a “wasteland” at the time.
Crawford says near the end of the meeting Moroziuk admitted the art gallery should have been contacted, adding no decision has been finalized yet.
“He went on about the cost of maintenance of city-owned buildings, and I had to remind him, this is not a city-owned building,” Crawford says.
The art gallery does sit on city land, Crawford notes, adding when the gallery’s lease expires in 2019, he’s not sure what will happen.
Crawford says the gallery pays a reduced rate for the land, and the only other money given to them by the city has been $30,000 to upgrade the building’s boiler.
“It’s not like we’ve been a huge financial drain on the city in any way,” he says.
In an email to iNFOnews.ca, Moroziuk says the first phase of the city’s Facility Master Plan has pointed out significant capital spending is needed to upgrade city facilities. That has led the city to consider combining facilities to reduce operating costs, increase usage rates and free up some capital for reallocation.
Moroziuk says consideration is being given to the possibility of relocating the library, museum and art gallery to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Discussions involving the public and the operators of the facilities in question will take place during the second phase of the Facilities Master Plan, Moroziuk says, adding no firm decisions have been made yet.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016