District asked to support cultural centre vision

Whether or not a proposed community cultural centre gets off the ground now appears to be in the hands of district council.

Whether or not a proposed community cultural centre gets off the ground now appears to be in the hands of district council.

At the Jan. 14 committee of the whole meeting, Sicamous’ mayor and council were asked by Kim Hyde and Michelle Wolff to commit $100,000 in seed money, as well as a letter of support, that could be used to leverage grant money to help make the cultural centre a reality. Council was also asked to consider applying to the Economic Opportunity Fund, administered by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, for an additional $100,000 to go towards the centre. Council was also asked to commit to the provision of administrative time to “assist with grant applications, finances and strategic planning, and provide a council liaison to the society” overseeing the initiative.

Last year, Hyde and Wolff, the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce executive director, presented their vision of the community centre to the prior council. The crux of this vision is the former Tru Hardware building at 534 Main Street, the adjacent property by the highway intersection, and their acquisition.

“Our vision for this is a cultural centre in our community that would house the museum and archives… First Nations history and culture, art gallery and gift shop, the Sicamous Visitor Centre, Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce, rental office space, residential… We feel this is a good economic opportunity for our community,” said Wolff, noting the building is selling for $700,000. The adjacent property is listed at $309,000. Quotes from contractors have the cost of the desired renovations at $700,000 plus another $100,000 for equipment and supplies. Part of that cost has to do with the having proper storage for art and artifacts.

“I know talking to Splatsin, they have a canoe, an historical canoe they found at the bottom of the lake, that they really would love to have on display,” said Wolff. “They thought this would be an awesome opportunity right at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 97A.”

Highlighting some of the assets of the building site, Wolff said there is a treed pathway at the rear that could be used, in partnership with the neighbouring high school, as an art walk, as well as a picnic area. She suggested the building might also serve as a sort of hub for the proposed rail trail greenway from Sicamous to Enderby and beyond.

“We feel there’s an economic opportunity where one does not exist today,” said Wolff. “It’s an opportunity for us to draw another demographic to our community. If we can make the rail trail a reality, it just gives them another reason to visit us.”

Wolff said Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes and Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo support the idea, as do the Splatsin, along with the Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society and the Eagle Valley Arts Council. Wolff proceeded to list off numerous sources of potential grant funding through which she and Hyde hope to fund the majority of the proposed project.

“If we’re not successful, then we don’t get the money from you guys,” explained Hyde. “If we’re successful, then the money has got to be there for you guys to write us a cheque.”

Coun. Jeff Mallmes didn’t dismiss the vision, but was concerned with the details, or lack thereof.

“I’m not a fan of paper, but if I’m going to make a decision to cough up a couple of hundred thousand dollars, there’s a lot of things that we’d like to do and yes, this is one of them, maybe, but you have to have more information with these two pieces of property,” said Mallmes. “Like what did Splatsin say exactly… what’s their commitment going to be? Have you got an idea from them? Do you have a commitment from our MLA? Did you get a commitment from the MP? Did you get any numbers from anybody or are we the start…?”

Hyde explained the push for the vision had to begin anew to acquire support from the new council.

“The previous council supported the project,  but we didn’t go any further…” commented Mayor Terry Rysz.

Council agreed to send both monetary requests to the district finance committee for consideration.