City council is in the preliminary stages of exploring the possibility of developing a new heritage park that would house a new museum and the 153 Mile Store which the Patenaude family donated to the city last year.
During Tuesday’s regular council meeting, Coun. Scott Nelson said council wanted to let the public know about the plan and said initially the city is eyeing the Stampede Grounds as a place for the park and is in the early stages of going after funding.
Council also unanimously approved an application in the amount of $500,000 for the heritage park to the BC Rural Dividend Program announced by Premier Christy Clark while in Williams Lake last spring.
Mayor Walt Cobb added that the museum has also been looking for a new home.
“At the AGM directors talked about the fact that they’ve really outgrown the space,” Cobb said.
During their Oct. 4 regular council meeting, council announced it had agreed to sell the former Cariboo Lodge property to inSite Housing, Hospitality and Heath Services to the tune of $10. The company intends to make a bid with Interior Health to build 70 new residential care beds.
“inSite is interested in purchasing the museum property, too,” Cobb said Tuesday. “We are having the property assessed right now.”
Nelson said the possibility of new seniors’ housing and a new museum is the perfect storm.
“We can enhance some assets in our community and perhaps we can even look at partnering with First Nations as well when we build this museum,” Nelson said. “It is not something that was in the plans, but is something that has come up.”
Coun. Laurie Walters said during meetings council has had about relocating the historic 153 Mile Store, the Stampede Grounds came up several times as a possibility.
“If we are able to pursue this and it does happen it will be great for the museum, too, because it is bursting and at capacity,” Walters said. “Because it was the old health unit at one time, that space isn’t conducive for a museum in terms of preserving artifacts and they have so much they are actually turning away because they can’t handle more.”
Coun. Sue Zacharias said council needs to be looking for community champions for the project.
“We need money, time and commitment,” Zacharias said. “The consultant said the 153 Mile Store was really one-of-a-kind in North America and there might be one other one of that comparable quality in the Southern U.S.”
Cobb said it is a great opportunity.
“I really hesitate to think about the dollar value of what a museum could cost us, but this is the beginning to see if the grants are there and I am sure with the commitment from the Patenaudes we could have a fundraiser to get that store into town.”