Autumn 2014 referendum in the works for museum renovations

A fall referendum has been suggested by the museum board.

By Charlotte Helston

The board of the Vernon museum is exercising patience while preparing to ask citizens to borrow the necessary funds for a major renovation to the building. Chairman Ian Hawes this week announced a tentative date of fall 2014 for a referendum.

"I'm not a big fan of throwing money away to do something quick," Hawes said at a Greater Vernon Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday. "A referendum isn't cheap... we need to sell this so it will be approved in a landslide."

There was an option to move the museum to a new site,  but the City of Vernon instead endorsed plans to expand the existing building. While the museum board had some initial reservations about the decision, consultations with an architect have left them optimistic about the renovation.

"We accept the location with the caveat that the existing building be renovated to meet our current needs," Hawes said, noting 16-foot high ceilings and climate control as essential features.

"We want to end up with a building that will last another 40-50 years," Hawes said. "We're not exactly sure what this thing will look like."

The museum's vision is to demolish the back end of the museum and add 30,000 new square-feet. The remaining portion of the building has potential as a lobby area or meeting space.

GVAC director Rob Sawatzky said he's been receiving questions from the public on why the museum and art gallery timelines are not running parallel.

"The art gallery is just further down the line than we are," Hawes said, noting he didn't want to rush things.

Director Jim Garlick said, "You need time... You're being realistic with this timeline."

—Charlotte Helston

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