Put new museum downtown: historical society

District looking for use for patch of lawn next to leisure centre

The historical society had proposed building a new museum next to Haney House.

The historical society had proposed building a new museum next to Haney House.

While Maple Ridge tries to find a use for its three-quarter-acre size patch of lawn, the Maple Ridge Historical Society says it may have an answer: give it to Maple Ridge Museum and Archives for its new building.

“It would be far cheaper to build on the Memorial Peace Park site than on the currently proposed site for a new museum north of Haney House,” given the recent upgrade of 224th Street and the flat terrain, the society said Wednesday in a media release.

“The current board wants this idea considered,” added Maple Ridge Museum director Val Patenaude.

Maple Ridge wants community input on what to do with the parcel of green space, just north of the Zellers parking lot on 224th Street and is holding an open house in Maple Ridge library May 16.

Originally, the property was supposed to have a hotel as part of the public-private-partnership project that saw the construction of the office tower and Arts Centre Theatre.

A preliminary concept for a new museum was done in 2005, but the district has yet to set aside any money for it.

A new building would differ from the one sketched for the initial site on 224th Street, south of Lougheed Highway and just uphill of Haney House. That site involved a nine-metre difference in elevation between the north and south sides of the building and would require building into a clay slope.

Patenaude said there are pros and cons to both locations.

A museum downtown could fragment the historic area in Port Haney, close to the Fraser River, Haney House and where the current museum is located at 22520 – 116th Ave., in the former manager’s home for the Port Haney Brick and Tile company.

Only a fraction of Maple Ridge’s artifacts are on display in the cramped quarters of the old house.

But the downtown site, “offers many distinct advantages.”

There’s more parking for one thing, Patenaude said.

The site next to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre would be near the Haney bus loop and complement the library, war memorials and Art Centre Theatre nearby.

The historical society unanimously endorsed the downtown location at its Monday meeting. It says a new museum could also provide space for the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Area, Tourism Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and the chamber of commerce.

It made a similar proposal to the district in 2008, but then the focus was on developing it for commercial uses.

Patenaude didn’t know what council’s opinion is.

“We’re more looking at what the community thinks.”


Show support

Society members will be at the open house and are asking the public to support the idea when they fill out the feedback forms at the open house May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Maple Ridge Library or online at http://www.mapleridge.ca/EN/topnav/whatsnew/whatsnew/open_house_park.