Construction of a new observatory at Fraser River Heritage Park is on hold until council receives an independent report on the feasibility of the facility.

Rotary requests a refund

Mission club wants donation returned if observatory plans scrapped.

If the observatory project at Fraser River Heritage Park gets scrapped, then at least one local organization wants its money back.

Mission’s Sunrise Rotary Club informed council on Monday night that it will request a refund of the $20,000 donation it made towards the observatory, if council decides to re-purpose the building.

In April, it was announced that the district would end its maintenance agreement with the Mission Heritage Association to run Fraser River Heritage Park. As part of that announcement, the district asked that all fundraising for the partially constructed observatory be stopped until an independent study on the feasibility of the facility could be completed.

Many volunteers and contributors are concerned that the project may be abandoned.

Louise Lacerte, past president of the Rotary club, spoke to council on Monday night to clarify her group’s position.

“Our Rotary club, over a period of years, raised money to dedicate to a legacy project,” she said.

After being presented with several choices, a committee decided that the observatory “was a perfect fit.”

She said the project provided a service to the community, and it involved partnerships with other community organizations, businesses, provincial and local governments.

Also, it had the backing of Mission council.

On March 8, 2014 the project kicked off with a ground-breaking, and Rotary presented a cheque for 20,000.

“Since that day, Rotary has continued to raise funds and garner support for the project. Our question now is, will the District of Mission support Rotary to complete the project?” asked Lacerte. “Or will you be refunding the $20,000 that was donated, specifically for that project?”

Mission Mayor Randy Hawes told Lacerte that while the previous council did approve the project, “this is not the previous council.”

He said no decision on the fate of the observatory will be made until the independent report is finished some time next month.

After the meeting, Hawes said if a decision is made not to continue with the observatory, then he personally would support Rotary’s request.