Surrey Museum, the sequel, on city agenda

City council agrees to move ahead with the long-promised phase two of the Surrey Museum.

  • Oct. 26, 2011 4:00 p.m.

The Surrey Museum.

Phase two of the Surrey Museum is back on the city’s radar screen.

Surrey City council has agreed move forward with the second phase of the museum, allaying fears the project had stalled.

In doing so, council acted on the city’s draft Cultural Plan, which recommends completing phase two to meet growing demand.

The city will now develop a concept plan for phase two, including a phasing strategy, using a reserve fund of $450,000 that’s been set aside for the past several years.

The reserve fund consists of $250,000 from the Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society and $200,000 from the City of Surrey, matching funds it put forward after the society raised $1.6 million to build the new museum – now a centrepiece of downtown Cloverdale.

Last week’s announcement is encouraging news for the Friends of the Surrey Museum Society. In November 2010, the board sent a delegation to city hall, reminding council of the $450,00 held in reserve and of council’s 2003 promise to complete phase two within 10 years.

When the second phase wasn’t included in the Build Surrey program, a plan outlining capital projects, the project appeared to have stalled, board member Sharon Shilliday wrote in a Sept. 18 letter to Mayor Dianne Watts.

Worried that the project wouldn’t see completion by the target date of 2013, members began actively lobbying city council.

The museum completed seven years ago is 24,000 square feet in size – less than half of the original proposal, which called for a 60,000-square-foot facility.

Due to cost constraints, the project was scaled back on the understanding that the second phase would follow within a decade. The building’s east wall has been constructed with that plan in mind.

More space would allow the museum to bring in traveling national exhibits that are too large for the existing exhibit hall – and would increase the amount of storage for Surrey’s historic treasures.

The present museum isn’t large enough to host traveling, and there is not enough storage space.

The society formed in 2000 to raise money to help build a new home for the Surrey Museum, eventually raising $1.6 million.

Founder and 2010 Surrey Civic Treasure Al Cleaver recently told Cloverdale business leaders of the $1.6 million raised by the Friends society, $1 million went to building the new museum, $400,000 went to the endowment fund and $200,000 was handed to the City of Surrey, which allocated another $250,000.

On Oct. 17, city councillors agreed to direct staff to refocus capital planning efforts on building the long-promised second phase.

More arts space for South Surrey

The city is also moving forward with plans to build a new arts centre in South Surrey, another project identified as a priority in the draft Cultural Plan.

A city staff report says local arts groups endorsed a phased approach, with phase one consisting of a 3,500 to 4,000 square foot expansion to the South Surrey Recreation Centre in 2012.

The expansion could house an office for the Semiahmoo Arts Society, a shared meeting room or multipurpose room, pottery and visual arts studio, storage space and more.

The South Surrey White Rock Arts Society has likewise raised $250,000 – money it has offered to donate to phase one of the project, in exchange for some free facility use for monthly meetings and art sales.

Phase two would consist of a new arts centre to be built on 152 Street in the South Surrey town centre within the next three to five years. It would include a performing arts and visual arts space, instructional and studio areas.

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