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Alberta Aviation Museum to negotiate with city on ownership of historic Hangar 14

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The Alberta Aviation Museum says it is about to begin negotiations with the city on the future ownership of Hangar 14.

The hangar at the former Edmonton Municipal Airport, which is owned by the city, was completed in 1942.

It has been home to the museum for more than three decades.

The future of the building has been unclear since the city launched a study to assess the maintenance and upgrades needed to maintain the hangar.

A report released by city administration in 2022 found $41 million would be required in the immediate future to maintain the building, and the decision was made to put the hangar up for sale.

After the decision, the museum collaborated with its own architects and engineers. It says those experts found the building to be in better shape than the city report indicated.

On Thursday, the city's executive committee passed a motion to work with the museum on the future of the hangar.

"Knowing that we are going to be taking this on is a lot of weight being lifted off our shoulders," Jean Lauzon of the Alberta Aviation Museum said Friday.

Lauzon hopes the decision means the museum won't have to move to a new building.

"I [would] have to relocate upwards of 35 plus aircrafts and all the collections that we do have," she said.

An event highlighting women in aviation was held at the Alberta Aviation Museum on March 9, 2024. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)

"It wouldn't be as simple as we'll just move next door. This is an 85,000 square foot building, we would need something of a similar size in order to accommodate everything that we have here."

Lauzon says it's not clear yet how the transfer of ownership will happen yet, but she's hoping the museum will see some money from the city before the deal is complete.

"This hangar has been, I wouldn't say neglected, but it's needed a lot of work for a long time, and it was owned by the City of Edmonton. I think they need to participate in some of this cost coverage as well."

The city is also not revealing the details of the deal, which happened in a private committee meeting.

"City staff will be working with the museum to come up with the exact details of the agreement," Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson told CTV News Edmonton on Friday. "At that point it will come back to council for final approval. So still a lot of details to work through, but I'm hopeful that we'll be able to move forward."

'The best way forward'

Stevenson says the cost of maintaining the building is the main reason the city is looking to part with the hangar.

"As a city, it wasn't a building that we were able to maintain in our inventory," she said. "We have a lot of pressures in terms of older buildings or rec centres, skating rinks, roads, parks, many, many things that need investments right now."

"We want to be sure it has a good future, so I was really pleased to hear the excitement, enthusiasm from the museum group to take that on and keep it a part of our community."

Stevenson says transitioning the building's ownership from the city to the museum would allow the organization to access funding the city can't.

"It will help them have access to other grant programs from different orders of government, help them tap into donations and the philanthropic community in Edmonton, and will also allow them to do some of the work themselves," she said.

The Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton. (CTV News Edmonton)

The building was designated as a historic place by the provincial government in 2004.

Stevenson says recognizing the city's aviation history is a big part of why the city decided to work with the museum instead of selling the hangar to another bidder.

"Aviation has played a huge role, not just in this small area in Blachford, but our whole city. We were a gateway to the north and that was a key part of how we grew as a city," she said.

"As a committee, we felt that it was appropriate to take an offer from an interested, willing partner in the museum, and exploring that and hopefully finding a deal that can make that work is the best way forward."

The decision comes on the heels of a fire that destroyed another historic building at the former airport, Hangar 11.

"As you can see from what is left of the remains of Hangar 11, once it's gone, it's gone," Lauzon said.

"Right now we are there's only three historic pieces left on the Blatchford property."

The Edmonton Police Service says the fire that destroyed Hangar 11 on April 22 was deliberately set.

So far no arrests have been made in the case, but police say they are searching for a person of interest.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nav Sangha

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