Janet Chalmers

Mission Rotary seeks to save some of observatory

Wants to find a way to make it a shared use building and restore part of it to be the Rotary observatory and science centre.

Members of the Mission Sunrise Rotary Club are hoping to meet with council and discuss the fate of the observatory project at Fraser River Heritage Park.

Janet Chalmers, president of the club, spoke to council on Monday night.

She questioned why the district is treating the observatory building differently than other building projects in the park.

“The District of Mission has taken over the completion of the Clayburn Building and the Blackberry Kitchen without altering the purpose of those buildings. The question needs to be asked why is the Rotary building only going to proceed to completion if it is totally repurposed and the observatory taken out of the plan?” she asked.

Chalmers said the building was always planned to be a multi-purpose structure and leaving an observatory component makes sense.

Members of the Mission Sunrise Rotary Club raised $20,000 toward the project and another $100,000 in funding came from the provincial government. Chalmers said that money was for an observatory.

“I know Rotary and certainly the provincial government, never would have contributed to a meeting room in the park or an area to hold receptions and banquets.”

In July of 2015, Rotary asked council for its $20,000 to be returned if the observatory was being cancelled.

At the time, Mayor Randy Hawes indicated that he would support that request.

However, during Monday’s meeting, Hawes said he may have misspoken, noting that the district never received the $20,000, rather the Mission Heritage Association was the recipient.

Chalmers continued to push for public consultation on the building.

“We are asking that, if the interest of the community is there, that we find a way to make this a shared use building and restore part of it to be the Rotary observatory and science centre.”

Local businessman and Rotary member Wyatt Scott also spoke to council, asking for “a little area” in the building where people could set up telescopes.

“Can we look at downsizing the project where it is something that is going to be manageable?”

Council received the delegation.