March 14 looms large in efforts to save the historic Hope Station House.
That’s when the District of Hope mayor and council will give a definitive answer on how much money they will kick in for the project.
That answer will determine whether the current project moves forward, or dies where it is.
Ryan Ellan from the Tashme Heritage Society provided an update to council Feb. 28, saying they are receiving $298,800 from the BC 150 Time Memorial Grant. They had targeted $500,000.
“It’s a little less than we were hoping for, but we are on the very high side of what other historical societies are receiving,” he said. “Most are getting anywhere from 15 to 25 per cent while we received 60 per cent of what we asked for. It’s a good start.”
Between that funding and $150,000 from a previous Heritage BC Grant, the project has $448,800 in the bank, which Ellan said is 35 per cent of the project’s budget.
His main goal at the meeting was to press the District of Hope for a commitment. Money from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) was previously earmarked for the Station House, and Ellan asked for $500,000 to be released.
“That would bring us to 74 per cent of our budget, and we could leverage that funding for matching grants,” he explained. “It would show heritage societies and our other partners that the District of Hope has faith in us, and we feel we’d have no problem matching the $500,000 with outside sourcing.”
Outside sourcing refers to other grants, but Ellan said they are ‘matching grants’ that would kick in with a District of Hope contribution. It was suggested the District could safeguard an agreed-upon amount of money and disperse it when needed, allowing the Tashme Historical Society to put it on grant applications.
But if the District opts to not provide a large chunk of the MoTI money, Ellan said the project will be dead.
“We (Tashme Historical Society) would have to be financially responsible, and we wouldn’t be moving forward with the project,” he told council. “We’d have to be realistic about it, and the Tashme Historical Society is not willing to start a project at only 35 per cent (of budget). It’d be too much of an uphill climb trying to collect a million dollars.”
Council had the opportunity to ask questions and Councillor Craig Traun expressed hesitancy
“I was willing to give up $150,000 to move the building, but knowing they now need $500,000 and that still won’t meet the budget, what would the timeline and guarantees be?”
Ellan said it’s a two year project from the time the building is moved to the time its doors would be opened.
Counciller Scott Medlock expressed support for the project and indicated he’d be willing to consider Ellan’s request.
“The alternative that was presented to us was to move the building to Yale, and that group also had requested funding,” he said. “I’d far rather spend funds to have the building remain in the community. That’s why I’ve been a proponent of this plan as I feel it’s the most solid one there is.”
Council staff have estimated that around $75,000 would be needed to remediate the property the Station House now resides on, and that would come out of the MoTI money. Council was not willing to give Ellan a final answer on funding without knowing what’s left.