Janet Chalmers (left) president of the Rotary Club of Mission (Sunrise) and Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton (right) are both saddened by the observatory outcome.

Janet Chalmers (left) president of the Rotary Club of Mission (Sunrise) and Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton (right) are both saddened by the observatory outcome.

OBSERVATORY: Donors are disappointed

Rotary Club members gave $20,000 to observatory, provincial government gave $100,000.

Mission Rotarians are upset and disappointed that the observatory building, which they donated $20,000 towards, is about to be taken down.

In July 2015, after learning that council had decided not to move forward with the observatory project, Louise Lacerte, past president of the Rotary Club of Mission (Sunrise), spoke to council and asked for their money back.

In December 2015, current president Janet Chalmers also spoke to council, pushing for consultation on the fate of the building.

At that time, she told council if they were not going to build the observatory and they were going to re-purpose the building, Rotary would like to have input on that decision.

Since then the vote has been taken and the building won’t be re-purposed. It’s going to be torn down.

Chalmers said she’s still waiting for the consultation she asked for, adding the only chance for any input was an open house to which the entire public was invited.

She also noted that some of the siding on the observatory has already been taken down and re-used on the new expansion of the Blackberry Kitchen.

“We never raised money to put into the Blackberry Kitchen. And if they are going to use it to fix up the Clayburn Building, well, that’s not what we raised money for either,” she said.

Chalmers said many of her club’s donors are still upset.

“I have people who want to do protests and all of that. I say fine, go ahead and do whatever you want, you’re a member of the public.”

Council has indicated that if the material re-purposed from the observatory is used for a future project, they would be happy to put Rotary’s name on the site.

Chalmers said the group would be willing to consider that.

“If we are going to put our name on it, we would like to see it be a benefit to the community.”

As for a refund, Chalmers said the money was donated to the Mission Heritage Association to help build the structure. Now that the city has taken over control of Fraser River Heritage Park, she doesn’t think it’s likely.

“I don’t think the city is going to be cutting us a cheque anytime soon.”

Other donations have also been accepted and spent on the project.

In April 2013, Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton presented the Mission Heritage Association with a $100,000 grant from the provincial government to get the project underway.

With the building set to be taken down, that money is essentially lost.

Dalton said it’s sad that the observatory won’t be completed, but it does happen, especially when there is a change in government.

“When you have an election and you have a big change, as it was in the last election, at whatever level, then quite often projects can be scrapped,” he said.

Dalton said obviously had he known it would not be completed, he wouldn’t have pushed for the funding.

“Nobody likes to see wasted dollars.”

He added that the observatory had the support of the previous council but an election brings “a change of perspective.”

He also heard costs did climb more than originally anticipated and the observatory wasn’t the only park structure with which there have been issues.

“You’ve got some quality people, experienced people, on council. They’ve been looking at the numbers, they’ve been looking at everything and so, I’m sad about it, but at the same time I defer to their judgment.”