NEWS

Vancouver Art Gallery needs council vote for new home

04/18/2013 12:55 EDT | Updated 06/18/2013 05:12 EDT
The Vancouver Art Gallery could get a new home at Cambie and West Georgia streets if city council approves recommendations from a staff report and the gallery comes up with $150 million.

In a report to council dated April 15, city staff recommend the current site of a parking lot at 688 Cambie for the gallery's larger, future home.

Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, says the recommendation is just what the organization has been seeking for years.

"Well, we're absolutley thrilled," she said. "We've just outgrown this facility in every possible way."

The gallery, which is squeezed for space in a former provincial courthouse on Hornby Street, is only able to exhibit about three per cent of its permanent collection at any given time.

The gallery has been negotiating for years with the City of Vancouver to find a space on which to develop a larger building, and in 2010 said it has found an ideal location at 688 Cambie — a full city block formerly known as Larwill Park.

The proposal in the city staff report is to put 1.8 acres of prime real estate in the gallery's hands for 99 years. Council will vote on the issue next week.

A potential dealbreaker could be the project's financial costs, and the $150 million that the gallery has to secure in funding, including grants from the federal and provincial governments.

But Bartels says securing a lease is a necessary step to moving forward.

"We couldn't do any fundraising until we had a site, and now the next phase is to secure our architect and start our fundraising plan," she says.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has been seeking a new space for years. Previous suggestions and options explored include relocating to the Plaza of Nations along False Creek, or moving into the downtown Canada Post building.

Bartels says it's too early to say when the facility could be finished.

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