Heritage chair wants plan for new Maple Ridge museum

Former district councillor Craig Speirs says it’s time to start talking about a new museum in Maple Ridge

  • May. 2, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Maple Ridge community heritage commission chair Craig Speirs knows council doesn’t have money to throw around.

But it’s time to start talking about a new Maple Ridge museum and put it in the business plan, the large to-do list that council writes every year.

He’s confident his former councillors feel the same way.

“I think council gets it,” he said Tuesday before council’s evening meeting.

“For me, it’s part of the suite of services we have to offer downtown.”

Having a modern museum could boost tourism in central Maple Ridge, which is why Speirs favours locating it in Port Haney, possibly on the district’s property above Haney House on 224th Street, or on the three acres the district owns on Selkirk Avenue and 227th Street, or whatever place that works.

But questions have to be answered before any decision is made, he added. Geotechnical issues could be at the site on 224th Street.

What about a partnership with a private development, he asks.

Speirs says there’s no money in the budget for the project, which could top out at more than $10 million, but says the next step is at least to create a plan. He adds people tell him that newcomers to Maple Ridge don’t know the history and therefore aren’t identifying with their new home.

He adds it won’t be the heritage commission leading the project. That should be up to the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

“The commission is not going to be carrying the can for fundraising.”

Society chairperson and also former councillor Faye Isaac said recently that after the ACT and leisure centre are running, that it’s time for a museum.

A preliminary design for a new museum and archives was created in 2005 and was projected to cost $7 million, with that price to rise by 15 per cent every year.

“This is not a political issue, in my view,” Speirs added.

Maple Ridge Museum and Archives director Val Patenaude welcomes any renewed discussion.

Museum visitors are always asking about a new building, she added.

The topic disappeared so quickly and thoroughly after we presented our concept plan that people thought it was a done deal.  Now, nearly 10 years later, we’re really still at square one. “

She said the historical society has been working on a new museum since 1997 and that archival services are no better now than they were then.

“That can’t go on forever. I look forward to hearing what people think about the idea of a new museum and what kind of access they want to their community history.”