Eric Veistrup and Norma Greer of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society received a helping hand from Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Denise Sakai from Island Timberlands, Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce (CDCOC) president Peter Matthews, North Cowichan mayor Jon Lefebure and Mel Dorey, CVRD director for Saltair, at a groundbreaking ceremony outside the Chemainus Valley Museum last week.

Shovels break ground for Chemainus Valley Museum expansion

Construction of the long-awaited Chemainus Valley Museum expansion is expected to begin within a week or two.

Notable locals gathered outside the Chemainus Valley Museum (CVM) Friday afternoon (April 5) to break ground on the museum’s long-anticipated expansion.

Norma Greer, a CVM “archivist, secretary and gopher girl,” said the addition will be completed to the lockdown stage “by the spring of next year.”

Interior remodelling of the museum’s portion of the expansion is expected to be completed by 2016, Greer said, “by the 25th anniversary of the building of our original building.”

The Chemainus Visitor Centre and its sponsor, the Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce (CDCOC), will also call the expansion home.

Greer said the Visitor Centre will be open “hopefully early next spring.”

The expansion will include three floors in total, with the lowest floor consisting of a single room designed to serve as storage for the museum, Greer added, as they are “busting at the seams with stuff” and have exhausted their existing storage space as a result. The expansion includes an elevator, too, Greer said, to facilitate the relocation of items from the museum’s collection.

Chris Dawes and Denise Sakai from Island Timberlands were on hand to assist with the groundbreaking, Greer said, in recognition of the company’s ownership of the land once designated as parkland by H.R. MacMillan.

Eric Veistrup, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, and Greer were joined by Sakai,  Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, CDCOC president Peter Matthews, North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure and Mel Dorey, CVRD director for Saltair, for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site Friday afternoon.

Veistrup said they hope to start construction “within a week or two” in order to complete the building’s foundation “within the next two months,” prior to a slow-down for tourist season.

Framing will begin in the fall, Veistrup said, “and by this time next year we should have the roof on our structure. That’s our goal.”

“The visitor centre is now going to be part of our museum,” Veistrup added, “and we have promised them that they will be ready to move in here by June next year.”

The parking lot adjacent to the museum is destined to become “Waterwheel Plaza,” Veistrup reminded the crowd. “There will be no more parking here. It will be for the people to enjoy, and we believe that’s a great thing for Chemainus.”

The expansion, designed by Ladysmith-based architect Angela Quek, adds nearly 5,500 square feet of space to the structure. At street level, the addition includes 1,600 square feet of museum space and a 900-square-foot Visitor Centre, Veistrup said. Below that rests a second level with 1400 square feet of storage space for the museum and an 800-square-foot office for the CDCOC. At the base of the slope rests a third level, Veistrup said, which offers up an additional 780 square feet of storage.

Prior to the groundbreaking, Veistrup took a moment to express his gratitude to all those who lent a hand in seeing the project through to fruition, paying special mention to Greer.

“Without Norma, we would not be standing here today, Veistrup said. “I can guarantee you that.”

According to the museum’s website, the expansion will be completed in three phases. Phase one begins now and consists “of the construction of … the foundation and base of the new expansion.”

Phase two will include the construction of the walls and roof and is slated to begin by the end of 2013. Phase three “will be the joining of the old with the new museum,” with the historical society’s goal being the completion of the structure in time for the museum’s 25th anniversary.

Ladysmith Chronicle

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