By Museum Curator, Ryan Lee
Hello friends of the Alberta Aviation Museum,
I’d like to provide a quick update on the Hangar 14 situation, and the current plans of the Alberta Aviation Museum in response to recent developments. Following the decision at City Council on July 4th, we have been featured in multiple articles, radio interviews, and television news segments, and our plight has gotten some good attention. Many of you have written to your City Councillors regarding the decision. If you have not, I would certainly encourage you to do so as it is critical that we keep the momentum going forward. With Executive Director Jean Lauzon on a well-earned holiday until the middle of August, I will be providing updates in her stead.
In that regard, if you are active on Facebook, there is a new Facebook group, called Save Edmonton’s Hangar 14 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1488285688292917), which is helping to spread the word and advocate for the AAM and all the other tenants that have called Hangar 14 home over the past 30 years. If you can, please join the group and share your Hangar 14 stories and be involved in that campaign.
On 12 July, the AAM staff Leadership Team (Executive Director Jean Lauzon, Operations Director Erica d’Haene, and Curator Ryan Lee), and AAM Board Vice President David Smith met with our Ward O’day-min councillor Anne Stevenson. During the meeting, she reiterated her strong support of the Museum and member groups, and her commitment to work with us to find a solution that will keep us here in Hangar 14 in the long term. During the meeting, she clarified that she is working with City Administration, who are preparing a detailed action plan for what support they will be able to provide the AAM and member groups, considering the July 4th motion. In particular, we need firm answers on a number of possible scenarios that might occur and how the city can help, such as our last furnace possibly failing, or insurance issues that might arise as a result of the Administration’s condition report on the Hangar.
Councillor Stevenson is working with them on this plan to ensure that what the city committed to during the City Council meeting is honoured, and that the intensions behind several aspects of the motion are understood. For instance, the motion allows the city to sell Hangar 14, but in the next two years, the buy must maintain the public museum in the Hangar. The full legal implications of the statement are more complicated. Are they to maintain the museum for free, or can they set the cost? Can they evict us in a few years, or sell to another party? Councillor Stevenson’s intent with the motion is that the purchaser would keep the museum here permanently / indefinitely, so she is making that clear to the City Administration.
As several key staff City staff members are on vacation during the busy summer months, we are expecting this detailed plan in the middle of August. In the meantime, Councillor Stevenson will remain in contact and help broker meetings between us and the city.
Our next scheduled meeting is on 27 July with City Manager Andre Corbould, who leads the City of Administration team of 10,000 employees, where we will be able to discuss the Investment Study, and the preliminary plan.
With strong support from the public that wish us all to remain in Hangar 14, and support from City Council members that want to see the Museum stay in Hangar 14, we have a good chance at finding a creative solution – or a solid foundation for one – in the next two years. Thus, our current focus is on staying put, and finding a solution that keeps us here, and makes sure the Hangar is viable long-term.
Thus, operations at the Museum will, for the most part, continue as planned. We have had a great year so far, and it will be great to keep that going. I know the news is very disheartening and stressful, with a lot of worry that all your hard work will have been for nought. While there is never a guarantee that things will work out exactly the way we intend, I think we stand a very real chance of finding a solution that keeps us here, together.
Board President, Brent Abbott is currently on holiday, but when he returns on the 25th, he will be busy with support of the board and other volunteers in building key committees to assist with various aspects of the project going forward, such as studying the engineering reports and understanding the scope of work needed to Hangar 14, or facilitating fundraising opportunities and networking for further support.
I will be sending another update in two weeks time, which will be following the meeting with Andre Corbould. In the meantime, we continue to reach out to other levels of government, heritage organizations, and concerned citizens.
Please write your councillors, or letters to the editor of the local newspapers to express your support for the Museum and the other member groups, and advocate for help in keeping us here. And please let your friends and family know that we remain open as normal and continue to have a lot to offer the community.
Curator, Alberta Aviation Museum