Those in Whistler hoping to put forward a bid to relocate the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Museum (CSOFM) to the resort have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks.
The board of directors for the now defunct Ottawa museum has scheduled a meeting early in the new year to make a final decision on where its $1.5 million collection will be relocated.
Board member in charge of the efforts to find the new home Chris Edgell said there has already been a number of delays in the decision making process to allow more time for those interested to submit proposals.
The board met on
Dec. 5 to review the proposals submitted so far and to arrange site visits. But Edgell said another request from Whistler for a six-month extension was denied and a final decision is expected on Jan. 16 at a board meeting.
“I went to the board to try and get six more months and I failed … part of that has to do with being fair to people,” he said, noting at the time that complete proposals from other locations have been received. “There are legitimate proposals that can work already in and they have been given the opportunity to improve on those proposals and Whistler for one is saying they can’t get the capital funding in advance of saying what kind of project it will be.”
“The Ski Hall of Fame and Museum board of directors is unwilling to take a chance that they can come down to June 2013 and find out (Whistler) couldn’t get financing.”
The other contenders for the museum are Revelstoke, Rossland, Grouse Mountain and Mount Tremblant.
The Whistler bid would see the construction of a new building at the eastern corner of Whistler Olympic Plaza and would include relocating the Whistler Museum into the building, plus provide archive space to the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
A request to speak to Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden about whether council still had an appetite for the proposal and if the land was still considered as an option for the museum was denied by the municipality’s communication department earlier this month.
A local business group led by retired developer and ex-chamber board member Peter Alder took up the work of making the bid. He estimated a new facility would require fundraising of up to
$10 million. Alder also noted there are architectural designs for a museum space on the proposed location developed before the Olympics that never came to fruition.
Executive director of the Whistler Museum Sarah Drewery confirmed the resort’s proposal will be submitted to the CSOFM in time, but finding the money has been an issue.
“We beautifully match all the criteria except the big one, which is the funding and we really want it to come here, but it isn’t something that will happen very quickly,” Drewery said, adding fundraising efforts are ongoing. “It is a really good fit for Whistler and I think the Canadian Ski Museum would like to see it here because we have the visitor numbers.”
Linking the local museum with the national one, she added, would be great from a cultural tourism perspective and allow the Whistler Museum to expand as well.
“I feel like we are reaching a point of what we can develop while we are in this building,” Drewery said, noting the organization’s current space is restricted. “To be able to get the museum into a better position would be fantastic for us.
“The history of skiing in Canada and the history of Whistler has a strong correlation.”
Back in February in a story in The Question, Alder recognized the timelines set out by the board of directors for the CSOFM were optimistic.
With several delays to the original timetable for the relocation already, Edgell reiterated adding more time onto the process would not be fair to those who have met the deadlines.
Edgell added with 2013 being the year leading up to the Olympics in Sochi with a great men’s team competing, the museum wants to capitalize on that momentum.
“We don’t want to be in the backseat with no ski hall of fame and no museum — we have to get going.”
The museum has been on a hunt since the spring of 2011 for a new location because it could no longer afford its premises in Ottawa.
The Canadian Museum of History remains open to discussions with the museum and hall of fame to accept the collection there should the relocation efforts not come to fruition.