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Century-old building too costly to renovate

Delta is hoping to upgrade the 100-year-old building housing the Delta Museum, but it's sure to be an expensive proposition.

Delta is hoping to upgrade the 100-year-old building housing the Delta Museum, but it's sure to be an expensive proposition.

Delta CAO George Harvie recently told the Optimist the municipality is waiting for a response on a federal infrastructure grant application to undertake some much needed structural upgrades.

Obtaining the funds would require Delta to also contribute toward the project, expected to be expensive considering the age of the building and its many physical limitations.

In a presentation to Delta's parks, recreation and culture commission last summer, Mark Sakai, executive director of Delta Museum and Archives, described some of the issues with the historic building, including its cramped quarters and lack of accessibility for the physically challenged.

While the Delta Museum and Archives Society saw a positive step early last year with the relocation of the archives to a new facility, called the Delta Archives and Edgar Dunning Reading Room, near municipal hall, thanks to government infrastructure funding, it still remains to be seen what can be done about the museum on Delta Street.

Coun. Scott Hamilton, vice-chair of the parks, recreation and culture commission, in an interview with the Optimist last year noted if the building was to be upgraded, it would be a major expenditure because many code requirements, including making it accessible for the disabled, would have to also be fulfilled.

"The moment you touch that building, you have to deal with the accessibility and asbestos issues. We'd love to be able to do that, but it's a matter of applying some sound financial management on a project like that. It could wind up being over the top," Hamilton said.

Saying Delta would continue to seek potential grant and funding sources, Coun. Robert Campbell, who chairs the commission, said any grant monies would likely involve cost sharing with Delta, with the society contributing as well.

A consultant hired by the parks, recreation and culture department in 2007 reported it would cost about $2 million to properly upgrade the building, which at one time housed municipal hall. Department director Ken Kuntz explained to council at that time there was no money for such an undertaking.

In 2006, the museum society unveiled a five-year strategic plan for better services, although gutting and fixing the old museum in Ladner was not on the radar.

sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com