New building in Memorial Peace Park?

Proposal rolled out to the public as part of list of new projects

Race the Ridge ran through Memorial Peace Park on Sunday.

Race the Ridge ran through Memorial Peace Park on Sunday.

A new building in what is now part of Memorial Peace Park – a new home to a museum, archives and post secondary space – could be the finishing touch to Maple Ridge’s civic complex, city council heard on Monday.

Paul Fast, of HCMA Architecture and Design, presented the drawings for new facilities and improvements that would cost $30 to $40 million. Part of that would be a new building proposed for immediately west of the Leisure Centre.

The building would be one of several facilities on which the public could vote in a plebiscite to approve borrowing, as council tries to upgrade cultural and recreational assets. The main floor of the new building would have a meeting room that would accommodate 300 to 350, opening on to an outdoor patio. There would also be a cafe and commercial space.

The first floor would also have an entrance to a museum and archives, which would extend to the second floor. The proposed museum would offer municipal and First Nations history and artifacts, with flexible gallery spaces, archives, a lobby and a gift shop.

Space for a post-secondary institution also would be on the second floor.

The city would have some options for the rest of the building. Fast said the site would be suitable for a tower of four to seven storeys, for seniors housing or office space.

Each storey would be about 20,000 sq. feet.

Coun. Gordy Robson said he would prefer to see the upper floors developed in partnership with a large hotel chain, to lower the cost to taxpayers.

Coun. Tyler Shymkiw preferred to see the space developed into commercial offices, but available for expansion if the college needed more space to grow into.

Coun. Bob Masse said a hotel would be nice, but grant funding is also a prime consideration.

“Wherever we get the most bang for our buck,” said Masse.

The new development would include an atrium, a 1,500-square-metre plaza space between the new civic building and the Leisure Centre, and an additional 77 spaces of underground parking.

The approximate price-tag includes $5 million in upgrades to the leisure centre, and a youth wellness centre that is still to be planned in detail.

Fast said the building should have an open and transparent ground floor, looking out into Memorial Peace Park and at 224th Street.

“What you’re building here is a face for your community,” he said.

Mayor Nicole Read said the city has been in discussion with Douglas College, SFU and the University of the Fraser Valley about locating a satellite campus in Maple Ridge. There was previously post secondary programming offered at the Thomas Haney Centre, but Read said first-year college students may have been reluctant to attend at a building that is mostly a high school. She is optimistic that the proposed new civic location would be well attended because students want to get first-year university courses while living at home.

Much of the discussion during the hour-long presentation was capturing federal grant opportunities. Read has talked with MP Dan Ruimy, and they feel the proposed facility could be elgible for federal grants.

With city hall, the Arts Centre Theatre, the RCMP detachment, public library and the leisure centre surrounding the Memorial Peace Park, Read said the new city building would be “a place where we really profile and showcase the community.”

She told council it needs to set priorities, and be aware that people in the city want more amenities, and get away from the idea that the city should only do projects if it can get senior government funding.

But Robson said funding the project without raising taxes will be his main consideration.

“If we can get 70 per cent of the funding, I’m a lot more positive.”

Staff was directed to prepare options for funding and design of the building, and to plan a public engagement process.