There will not be an observatory in Fraser River Heritage Park.
The project, which is already under construction, will be re-purposed according to a press release issued by the District of Mission.
The release lists a variety of reasons that the project will be abandoned, including building code violations, safety concerns and an unrealistic business plan.
The district claims the construction of the observatory proceeded without the required drawings and permits in place and professional consultants demonstrated that the Mission Heritage Association’s business plan “is inadequately developed.” The release also says the construction and operation costs are drastically under-estimated while the revenue estimates are unrealistically high.
“The observatory is dead,” said Mission Mayor Randy Hawes.
“All of the stuff that we were told about the business plan, the research, all of it was really smoke and mirrors, not factual.”
Council has not decided what to do with the partially constructed building.
“What we want to do is take a look at a host of potential uses and then do some consultation with the public. I’ve got to be honest, included in that host of potentials would be to tear it down and just take it away.
“We don’t know if it meets any kind of building code at the moment,” said Hawes.
The observatory isn’t the only building project, organized by the Mission Heritage Association, that council is concerned about.
The release lists similar concerns regarding the Clayburn building, Blackberry Kitchen and other MHA projects.
MHA president Brian Antonson told the Record that the association has heard these claims from the district before.
“We’ve discussed this many times with them,” said Antonson.
He called the three buildings in question works in progress, adding the district told the association that it was assuming control over them.
“All of the deficiencies that are mentioned there would have been looked after if we kept on building. But we were told to stop. So we did,” said Antonson, adding there are two sides to every story.
Antonson said the MHA is not without some blame.
“There have been errors made, and we were working on eradicating all those things.”
He feels the association should be allowed to continue its work.
In December 2014, the district gave notice to the MHA that it would not be renewing its agreement to maintain the facilities at the Fraser River Heritage Park. MHA members have been vocal in their opposition of the decision.
According to the district’s press release, key problems at Fraser River Heritage Park include
• The relocation of the caretaker’s suite to the space above the concession was done without installing code-compliant fire separation. The BBQ and fryer were located below the suite and the fryer in the concession was not equipped with adequate ventilation or fire suppression equipment.
• There are numerous safety and financial concerns with the expansion of the Blackberry Kitchen. Its foundation has potentially been compromised because the cutting of the basement wall significantly exceeded the cut in the District-approved drawings and additional work was done without a permit.
The current electrical, wiring, and architectural problems that exist will cost the district $300,000 to rectify in addition to the estimated $100,000 required to install new equipment for the kitchen.
• The construction of the Clayburn building did not follow the approved structural drawings. The resulting safety and construction problems must be rectified. It will cost $150,000 to bring this building and the caretaker’s suite up to code.
• There have been allegations of problems regarding workplace harassment in the park that are currently under investigation by WorkSafe BC.
Below is the full press release issued by the district. For more documentation visit the district websi