Museum Society has a big dream for Abbotsford

The MSA Museum Society presented its vision of the future to council on Monday.

The group is proposing the creation of a discovery centre which will encompass much of the Mill Lake area.

The proposed site would feature a 7,000 square foot discovery centre and a 3,000 square foot outdoor covered staging area to compliment the current Trethewey House location.

The MSA Museum Society presented its vision of the future to council on Monday.

The group is proposing the creation of a discovery centre which will encompass much of the Mill Lake area.

The proposed site would feature a 7,000 square foot discovery centre and a 3,000 square foot outdoor covered staging area to compliment the current Trethewey House location.

The society’s executive director Dorothy Van der Ree told council, like Martin Luther King, “we have a dream too.”

The proposed centre would feature a large reception area, orientation and screening rooms, display space and community flex space, washrooms and a coffee shop.

The group wants to create a hands-on learning experience and feature interpretive heritage tours including First Nations, industry, agriculture, ecology, transportation and walking tours of Mill Lake.

“We will interpret the past, present and future of the people, industry and environment of Abbotsford,” she said.

The outside are would be used to stage festivals, markets and could be rented out for private use to generate income.

Plans also include creating a train ride around the area.

“It’s still a concept,” said Van der Ree adding its a first step in a journey she hopes will get started within the next five years.

The society has talked to an architect and while no drawings have been created, the project is estimated to cost between $2.5 and $3 million.

“We have some fundraising and corporate begging to do, but I’ve talked to a lot of groups and there’s a lot of interest.”

Society president Cindy Boury was at the presentation, with a large crowd of supporters, and asked council to take the first step and save the 6.2 acre site for this project, by designating it in the city’s Master Plan.

While council was receptive to the idea, Coun. John Smith pointed out one problem.

“We don’t own all of the land in that 6.2 acre site.”

The city has been slowly purchasing the lands adjacent to Mill Lake, but has not completed the process.

“There is no definitive, fixed timeline when this will occur,” said Mayor George Peary.

City staff will examine the proposal and report to council at the end of September.