Two cultural organizations are divided over possibly being under one roof.
It’s been suggested that the Vernon Public Art Gallery and Greater Vernon Museum’s need for space and state-of-the-art amenities could be accommodated in one facility. However, not everyone agrees.
“It’s too big of a pill from a financing standpoint,” said Tom Christensen, a member of a steering committee pursuing a new gallery.
The VPAG is proposing a $7 million new gallery while a new museum could cost up to $10 million.
Christensen also believes there is a timing issue as VPAG has worked on designs and costs and a location has been identified (the old Vernon Flower Shop) while the museum hasn’t taken some of those steps.
“The gallery has done the leg work and is ready to go,” he said.
“The physical land required for a combined facility is also challenging.”
The old flower shop site is not large enough for both groups, but museum chairperson Ian Hawes says there may be another option.
“The Coldstream Hotel site would be an interesting idea,” he said.
The City of Vernon originally purchased the former Coldstream Hotel property for a cultural complex but it is currently used as a parking lot.
Hawes says that the museum and gallery need a number of the same amenities, including meeting space, climate control and storage and there could be the possibility of reducing costs if there is one building.
Like VPAG, the museum would like a borrowing referendum this spring for new facilities.
“We will be ready with the details in terms of what the building will look like and the costs to build and operate,” said Hawes.
An ultimate decision on whether the gallery and museum go it alone or pursue a joint venture could rest with the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, which funds both agencies.
“A combined facility would be more beneficial to taxpayers,” said director Catherine Lord of operating costs.
That’s also the view from Mike Macnabb, GVAC chairperson.
“I’d like to see more of a working relationship between the two organizations on a common goal,” he said.