Changes could be coming to the Langley Centennial Museum. (Langley Advance files)

VIDEO: New museums, community centre, condos proposed for Fort Langley

A new Township proposal is expected to go public this week.

A plan for new museums, townhouses, and condos in Fort Langley has been announced by Langley Township.

The new proposal includes:

· A library, two museums, and a small conference centre with a presentation theatre that will be housed under one roof to create a new cultural centre for the community

· Townhouses and detached homes on the lands adjacent the new cultural centre

· A mixed retail/condo development on the current site of the Langley Centennial Museum

· A pedestrian overpass linking the new cultural facility to a realigned TransCanada Trails system

· Restoration and relocation of the historic Jacob Haldi House on the Fraser River, east of its current location, as a community amenity for paddlers and artists

· An artist work/live housing project with space dedicated for small Aboriginal-themed lodge accommodations on the current site of the Bedford House

· Improvements to the Fort-to-Fort Trail in front of the new development that would create outdoor spaces for arts and crafts activities

The curators and volunteers at the Langley Centennial Museum have been waiting for an expansion or renovation for years.

“Staff are excited,” said Peter Tulumello, the Township’s director of arts, culture, and community initiatives. “The museum celebrates 60 years this year, and much of the facility is that old.”

The Langley Centennial Museum was built to mark the British Columbia centennial in 1958.

The cramped existing museum building means that a significant number of historic artifacts are stored off-site, and there is little room to ever display some of them. Among other items, the museum owns the old Langley Advance press.

The off-site storage facilities also don’t meet modern standards for controlling humidity and temperature for preserving artifacts.

“This is also an opportunity to get much more of our collection on display,” Tulumello said.

“We run about 700 programs out of this building every year,” said Jeff Chenatte, of Langley Centennial Museum.

It would be nice to have more space and to think about the programs they could offer in a bigger building, he said.

“It opens up a world of possibilities,” Chenatte said.

VIDEO: Curator Kobi Christian talks about a possible new museum

First Nations communities, particularly the Kwantlen First Nation, are expected to be major partners in the proposal.

Tulumello said he has had numerous discussions with the Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group, Kwantlen First Nation’s business development arm, regarding some of the projects.

The new cultural facility will house a community museum, archives, art gallery, library, conference facilities, and a new Indigenous museum.

The aboriginal arts projects proposed for the Fort Langley waterfront are partly modelled after the Skwachàys Lodge & Gallery in Vancouver, and Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy.

“This is such a special, beautiful, and unique place to us and others, and it is important that we consider future uses carefully and respectfully,” said Tumia Knott, president of the Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group and Kwantlen First Nation councilor.

She noted that it is early days for the proposal, and that there was still public consultation ahead.

A preliminary public open house on the proposed projects is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, from 3 to 8 p.m., at St. Andrew’s United Church at 9025 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley.

More public consultation is expected throughout the year as designs are created.

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