Richmond's destination museum dream floated again

Study insists city 'needs' $59 million venue

Not for the first time, a destination museum, costing up to $59 million, is back on the table in Richmond.

Hot on the heels of the proposed $5 million Olympic museum, city staff are backing a consultants recommendation to push ahead with an attraction that will, apparently, pull in thousands of visitors from across the Lower Mainland.

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A report due to be presented to a city council committee Tuesday claimed the museum was a necessary component of a balanced and healthy community, and that the city needs a new museum of the highest quality.

The report is an update of a 2009 destination museum vision at that time costing $45 million and recommends building a 75,000 square feet facility on the middle arm of the Fraser River near a Canada Line station.

Rough estimates indicate that such a venue would potentially break even financially by its fifth year.

A slightly smaller project, at 60,000 square feet and costing $48 million, would take six years to break even.

Building a community museum would not be worthwhile, according to the report, as it would have limited appeal and wouldnt be able to draw in visitors from outside the city.

The City of Richmond is growing rapidly and the increased and increasingly diverse population has created a tremendous demand for new services, said Connie Baxter, the citys museum and heritage services supervisor, in her report.

A new museum is a necessary component of a balanced and healthy community that requires significant cultural, as well as athletic, facilities.

It will be a major civic asset, an economic generator and a source of community pride.

Baxter added that Richmonds central location in Metro Vancouver makes it accessible for a major cultural attraction.

The study, carried out by the Arlington Group, insists that a destination museum is financially feasible in Richmond and would be best served in a city centre location, close to the Canada Line.

It added that theres not nearly enough destination attractions in the Lower Mainland that can host international exhibits and Richmond could tap into that market.

More refined costing would materialize should the project enjoy city council approval and proceed to a master plan stage.

Any such museum could also tell the Richmond Story, according to Baxter.

Other city centre locations suggested by the consultant included:

Lansdowne Village (northwest corner);

Minoru Park;

Bridgeport Village.

And in Steveston, Bayview and No. 1 roads was suggested, along with the Phoenix Net Loft location.

City staff are now asking council to place a destination museum on the priority list for new facilities in the capital budget.

Since the original idea was put on the back burner four years ago, staff argue that the global economy has picked up and Richmond put itself on the map with the success of hosting speed skating in the 2010 Games.

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