Keep Our History in Flight
What’s the future for the alberta aviation museum
For three decades Hangar 14 has been the home of the Alberta Aviation Museum. The City of Edmonton owns the building and leases it to us at no cost. The first 25-year lease expired in 2017 and we signed a new 25-year lease in 2018.
The City launched a study to assess the cost of required maintenance and upgrades to the hangar. It released the completed report in the spring of 2022. Although the report suggests a variety of cost scenarios starting at $23 million over 20 years, City Administration is insisting the building needs $41 million in the immediate future and argues it cannot afford such an expense.
The Administration took its conclusion to City Council last summer with very little warning to the museum. The meetings ran late and discussions were rushed. City Council passed the following motion at its July 4, 2022 meeting.
“That Administration implement a disposition strategy that maintains the public museum use within Hangar 14 including but not limited to partnering with other orders of government and private partners and that the strategy is limited to a maximum of two years at which time disposition options without conditions would be pursued.“
Simply put, the building is up for sale. If no one is willing to buy it and keep the Museum in place, the Hangar 14 can be sold without conditions, and the Museum will be homeless.
The Museum has initiated discussions with a potential developer, and has engaged with City Councillors, our MLA, and staff from our MP’s office to explore options for ensuring a long-term secure home for the Museum in Hangar 14.
We are collaborating with architects and engineers to ascertain the actual cost and urgency of the required renewal work.
Based on their expertise, we believe the building is in better condition than indicated in the City’s report, and there is significant potential to reduce renewal costs by scaling down the scope of work needed.
There is also a big question about whether anyone would be permitted to develop on this site. The provincial heritage designation protects the building from demolition and severely restricts any changes to the structure.
Option One: A developer buys the Hangar, does the necessary work, and leases part of the Hangar to the Alberta Aviation Museum.
Any developer that is able to purchase the Hangar and put the amount of capital into the building required by the City would need to charge the Alberta Aviation Museum and other tenants a substantial amount for rent – likely as much as $1 million per year. That would cut our space by about half and leave us without an event hall, restoration workshops, and no room for tenant groups like the Air and Army Cadets.
Option 2: Another order of government buys the Hangar and is able to complete the necessary work, and leases the Hangar back to the Alberta Aviation Museum and other member groups in a similar arrangement to our current lease agreement.
This would be the easiest and cheapest option, but we have not had any responses on beginning this conversation with the provincial or federal governments.
Option 3: The City transfers ownership of Hangar 14 to the Alberta Aviation Museum and we complete the necessary work.
We think this is the best option to keep Hangar 14, the Museum’s home and most important historic artifact, intact.
The Museum has done its own studies on the Hangar over the years, most recently by Next Architecture. Their 2017 plan called for $5.6 million in upgrades and maintenance. Because of the large disparity in Next Architecture’s report and the City’s evaluation, we are engaging with several architectural firms in order to understand the Hangar’s condition and the scope of work that might be required if we take on ownership of the building.
To move forward we will need to provide the City with detailed plans of how we will take care of the building and raise funds to do so. The City does have a grant program for heritage buildings that could provide up to $500,000 per year for up to 10 years (totalling $5 million.) If the City provided that grant to the Alberta Aviation Museum, it would allow us to seek matching support from the Provincial and Federal governments. That would take us substantially closer to our goal of preserving our historic hangar and providing a home for the Alberta Aviation Museum for many years to come.
How can you help?
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Stay tuned for other ways that you, our supporters, can get more directly involved.