The plans for a large new community and Indigenous museum in Fort Langley won’t move forward without a multi-million dollar grant from the provincial government.
Last Thursday, Sept. 5, federal, municipal and Kwantlen First Nation leaders gathered in the Langley Centennial Museum for an announcement of $3 million in federal funding for the ambitious project to update Langley’s 60-year-old facility.
However, Township officials are still waiting to hear back from Victoria about an application for provincial funding, said Peter Tulumello, director of arts, culture, and community initiatives.
“We’re very optimistic,” he said.
The Township is asking Victoria for $10 million in funding.
“That’s a big piece of the project,” Tulumello said.
Until the province makes a decision, there can be no shovels in the ground on the new Centennial Museum project, Tulumello said. They can’t qualify for the funding if the project has already started.
The province is expected to make a decision later this year, and the application is under review.
The federal money announced last week will be coming to the Township in $1 million installments over three years, starting this year. Cloverdale-Langley City Liberal MP John Aldag, who formerly managed the Fort Langley National Historic Site, made the official announcement.
Local dignitaries were excited about the federal grant announcement, which moves the proposed museum complex one more step forward.
“So excited to have a place and a voice where we can express ourselves,” said Tumia Knott, a Kwantlen First Nation councillor.
The Indigenous museum to be a part of the project is to be dubbed Salishan, meaning “A Place By the River,” Knott said.
Township Mayor Jack Froese noted that the partnership with the Kwantlen is a part of ongoing truth and reconciliation efforts by local governments.
“We’re working together, we’re moving forward,” he said.
The two museums will bring together the history of thousands of years of First Nations occupation of the region, along with the Hudson’s Bay Company trade and the arrival of traders, farmers, miners, and loggers in what would become Langley by the 1800s.
The new museum will also replace the aging Langley Centennial Museum.
The structure dates back to the 1950s. It was built to mark the 1958 centennial of British Columbia’s creation as a colony of Great Britain.
“It’s been a great museum,” Froese said inside the wood-framed structure.
But he noted that it will be replaced by a state-of-the-art new facility.
Along with federal, and planned provincial and municipal funding, the Township’s plans include developing some land around or on the current museum site into housing to raise money for the project.