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Library/Museum building on hold due to lack of funds

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The proposed $10 million library/museum building has been put on hold indefinitely since the fundraising arm of the project disbanded earlier this month.

Citing the economic downturn over the past two years, the joint Capital Campaign for the library/museum has officially stopped collecting money for the project after falling far short of their financial goals.

Now the municipality is back at the drawing board looking at all of its options for a future library and museum in the resort.

"Even though we have always envisioned (the library and museum) being together, jointly as far as a building program, it’s probably appropriate that we consider looking at them separately now," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

Council has yet to decide the fate of the project but they are considering a phased approach as one of the options.

If the municipality decides to phase the project over the next five or six years the library, which is literally bursting at the seams, would be built first, with the museum to follow.

"They both desire a new building, new facilities but the sense of urgency from the library may have been greater than that from the museum side," said O’Reilly.

Stephen Henderson, chair of the Whistler Museum & Archives Society, agrees the library is a top priority. But if phasing is the answer he said the museum doesn’t want to fall by the wayside in the planning stages.

"Our concern would be if that compromised the final building, the structure of the building, and that we wouldn’t be forgotten about," he said.

"Our concern always was that we only have one shot of doing it right and if that meant taking the time to do it right then we were willing to go there."

The municipality is reluctant to make any plans until the July 2 decision in Prague, which will reveal the host city of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

If Vancouver wins the bid there could be implications for Whistler’s museum.

"We are named in the Bid Book as one of the institutions that would be responsible for the Olympic Legacy aspect and so there would be repercussions there," said Henderson.

Some of those repercussions could be increased programming and possible funding to support that programming, though Henderson hastened to add that nothing is on paper yet.

With or without the Olympic Legacies Henderson said there is still value in the Whistler Museum.

"Even if we don’t have the Olympics there is still a story to be told about Whistler, how we became a ski resort and all the other aspects that make this place unique," he said.

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