Library-museum project under review
By Alison Taylor and Clare Ogilvie
Community organizations in Whistler are struggling to raise funds in an economic climate hostile to charity donations.
This month the fundraising committee working on the Whistler library/museum project was forced to revisit its plans for a $10 million facility due to fundraising woes.
And Whistlers largest capital project to date, Maurice Young Millennium Place, is being challenged to meet its fundraising obligations in these tough times.
Its been one year since the capital campaign for the new library/museum building kicked off, amid great excitement and anticipation.
At its start the fund was already at the halfway mark thanks to a $5 million contribution from the municipality, which will own the building.
The challenge for fundraisers was to deliver $5 million, including at least $3 million one year before construction was due to begin.
It was a challenge money-seekers found impossible to meet.
"The fundraising has not gone as well as we had expected it to go," said Anne Fenwick, chair of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee.
"We had anticipated having our $3 million goal for construction by now and it hasnt happened and were nowhere close to it."
Over the course of the year the capital campaign has managed to raise $600,000.
In light of this, earlier this month Fenwick approached council to ask for input on the crisis.
"Were revisiting the project and seeing where we go from here," she said, adding that they are investigating every aspect of the project, not just the fundraising difficulties.
Fenwick said there are several reasons why it has been so hard to raise the $3 million needed to get started.
"The economic times are very different than what they were when we did our fundraising feasibility study three years ago," she said.
"That study came back and said, Yes, the community will support a $4 to $5-million capital campaign for a joint library/museum project.
"(But) with all the various economic turndowns, with 9/11, were finding thats not the case anymore."
On top of the tightening economy, Fenwick said the capital campaign has also had to compete with fundraising for Millennium Place. The competition for community funds had more impact on library/museum fundraising than had originally been anticipated.
And there has been waning support in the community for spending $10 million on a library/musuem.
"Were hearing a lot of concern from the community and were trying to respond to the community as well and listen to their concerns," said Fenwick.