Plans that would see the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society take possession of the empty lot at 135 Kenneth St. as part of its ambitious $35-million expansion project are moving forward.
Duncan city council voted to enter into a purchase agreement for the municipally owned property with the CPAG at its meeting on Nov. 6 that the gallery can exercise within the next five years, and would see the purchase price based on the fair market value of the land at the time.
In keeping with the city’s initial reason for purchasing the property for $351,000 in 2019, the purchase agreement also calls for a pedestrian right-of-way to be established through the property, and that the CPAG provide a minimum of two residential units within the Kenneth Street portion of the gallery’s expansion project.
The city also retains the right to buy back the property for the same price the CPAG paid for it, less any demolition costs the municipality would incur to return the land to its previously vacant state, if it is determined the CPAG hasn’t met its obligations set out in the purchase agreement.
Duncan CAO Peter de Verteuil said the agreement has been reviewed by lawyers for the city and the CPAG, and it poses no financial or other risks to the municipality.
“It also means that art gallery would only move forward with its option to purchase the property if it has secured all the necessary funding approvals and is ready to move forward with construction in the time frames set out in the agreement,” he said.
A staff report on the issue, prepared by Jessica Hodgins, Duncan’s corporate services coordinator, added that providing an option for CPAG to acquire the property supports its efforts to establish a new, world-class public art gallery, which aligns with council’s strategic priority for a thriving arts community.
The expansion concepts for the new and expanded CPAG, which is planned to be the largest art gallery on Vancouver Island, are substantial and far reaching and would include an expansion of the CPAG’s existing site at the Green Door building property on Ingram Street and into the adjacent property at 135 Kenneth. St.
The expanded art gallery is expected to become a major cultural institution on Vancouver Island due to its unique programming, custom-designed buildings, and its strategic placement in the Duncan downtown area.
The CPAG is hoping and anticipating that funding for the project will be from the federal government, the province, and local fundraising by the society, with each expected to contribute approximately one-third of the costs of the project.