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Society eyes museum space for PoCo

A vacant city-owned retail space next to Port Coquitlam city hall would be ideal for a museum and archive display centre, according to a member of the PoCo Heritage and Cultural Society.

A vacant city-owned retail space next to Port Coquitlam city hall would be ideal for a museum and archive display centre, according to a member of the PoCo Heritage and Cultural Society.

With the archives already located in the building at Leigh Square, putting a museum in the space formerly occupied by 10,000 Villages would consolidate the city's historical resources, said society member Michael Thomas.

"Our dream for heritage was to have a major presence within Leigh Square," he said. "Bringing it all under one roof just makes sense."

On Thursday, the city confirmed that 10,000 Villages, a fair-trade retailer, would not be renewing its lease for the property. According to the parks and recreation department, the society approached the city about using the space for a museum.

Currently, the society operates a display centre at the community police station on Mary Hill Road. Thomas said putting the museum in Leigh Square would allow the policing office to expand while a larger heritage display centre would be more visible to the public.

Society members have met with the mayor regarding the issue and will be making a presentation during Monday night's city council meeting.

Barry Becker, the city's director of parks and recreation, said so far the heritage society is the only community organization that has approached staff about using the space.

Many factors would have to be considered in finding a new tenant and he said it is too early in the process to speculate on what tenant could move into the building.

Becker noted, however, that the city drew revenue from the previous occupant through a lease agreement. While not referring specifically to the heritage society, Becker said a special partnership with the city would have to be considered if a not-for-profit moved into the space.

"That is different than if it was a commercial venture going in there," he said. "If it went to a non-profit, then we would look at a partnership agreement."

PoCo Heritage and Cultural Society has been lobbying the city for a museum for several years. Mayor Greg Moore has said he would like to see a museum in place in time for the city's centennial, which is in two years.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com