The District of Mission has decided not to renew its Fraser River Heritage Park maintenance contract with the Mission Heritage Association.

Mission Heritage Association loses control of park

District will not renew its agreement with the association for the management and upkeep of the Fraser River Heritage Park.

Responsibility for the maintenance and management of Fraser River Heritage Park is going to switch hands.

The District of Mission announced Tuesday that it will not be renewing its agreement with the Mission Heritage Association (MHA) for the management and upkeep of the popular park.

The MHA has maintained the facility for more than three decades.

The current agreement expires at the end of 2015 and will not be renewed. Maintenance, programming and rentals will continue as planned through the remainder of this year.

However, effective May 1, 2015, the district will assume responsibility for all building construction.

This includes kitchen renovations, the caretaker’s suite, and the Clayburn Building. The MHA has also been directed to cease all work on the new observatory, including fundraising, until a formal review of the business plan has been completed by district staff.

“We have taken over the buildings, in terms of completing them,” said Mission Mayor Randy Hawes.

He said there is no timeline to finish the various structures, and now would be the right time to “take a few months to sit back and look at it.”

Brian Antonson, president of the MHA said it’s “very disappointing” to have this happen – especially the demand to cease fundraising for the observatory.

He is questioning “what statutory authority” the district is operating under that gives it the right to tell the association to stop fundraising and working on the buildings.

“I don’t get that,” he said.

Antonson understands that the city wants to evaluate the situation, but halting the fundraising process makes no sense to him, unless the district doesn’t want the observatory project to continue.

But Hawes said the decision to end the contract with the MHA is part of a larger parks plan.

“We have looked not only at Heritage Park, but all the parks in the district. We believe it’s time for a much broader governance structure that will cover all of our parks.”

Fraser River Heritage Park is the only park in the district that has a separate management contract. Hawes said it is time to design a new structure, whether it be advisory committee, park board, friends of the park or some other form of governance. Other than having staff to look after district parks, Hawes said there is no structure.

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