The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association has its sights set on the old MSA Centennial Library.
During its annual general meeting on Thursday night, the ADBA announced it has submitted a proposal to the City of Abbotsford to take over the old building.
“We have big plans for it, so we really have our fingers crossed,” said Tina Stewart, executive director of the ADBA.
Opened on May 12, 1967, the MSA Centennial Library served the community for more than 40 years. It was closed on Nov. 2, 2012 and its contents moved to the new library, built as part of the renovation/construction of Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.
The question of what to do with the old building has been up for debate at city council.
A group called Friends of the MSA Centennial Library has been trying to save the old building. They have proposed to turn the facility, located at 33660 South Fraser Way, into a community arts centre and cultural hub. The group is working with the Abbotsford Arts Council to create a new arts centre.
Stewart said the ADBA is aware of the other proposal and has also been working with the arts council.
“Our proposal sees us taking over the building and the arts council would be one of the people we lease some of the space to,” explained Stewart.
While the details have not been ironed out, Stewart said the ADBA plan would allow the arts council to have one entire floor of the building for an art gallery and shop.
The proposal is part of the ADBA’s focus on revitalization in the downtown core. The old library sits adjacent to Jubilee Park, which has been undergoing a slow transformation from a place where drug deals and homeless were the norm, back to a family area.
“It’s not quite what it used to be,” said Stewart, adding some people are still intimidated to use the park.
“The back of the library that is right on the park, we’re wanting to put a big patio out there that will invite people to use it.”
It could also be used as a stage during community events.
The proposal will not be a “money-maker” for the ADBA. Stewart said they plan to lease out space at low rates that will allow the group to break even.