The Boundary Museum Society has pulled two 40-foot long storage containers full of artifacts off The Land Conservancy of BC's (TLC) Hardy Mountain Doukhobor Village site due to the TLC’s financial woes.
The storage containers were removed last week and placed on concrete pads located on the Fructova site because the local museum board fears the financial scrutiny the TLC has been experiencing over the past month may jeopardize the artifacts contained within the containers, said Bob DeMaertelaere, Boundary Museum Society secretary.
"To protect our local artifacts we have to do whatever it takes," said DeMaertelaere. "That's not to say that if the TLC gets their finances in order that (the artifacts) can go straight back."
The Hardy Mountain Doukhobor Village, which is a 16.9 acre property with the remains of the Makortoff Doukhobor Village on it, has been owned by TLC since March 2004.
The Land Conservancy had intended to restore the property, but nothing has been done for the past two years. The Boundary Museum Society had agreed that once the site was restored and open to the public that they would loan artifacts to fill it. Those artifacts continued to sit in the two storage containers on the property, along with a few additional items in one of the homes on the property for several years.
"Some (of the artifacts) aren't so great and a lot of the gems we've already pulled out," said DeMaertelaere. "But there is still a lot of good stuff there that we don't want to lose."
DeMaertelaere said the storage containers will also provide a safe place to store the newly restored stage coach, which is presently in the open air display sheds at Gyro Park. He is concerned for the safety of the coach because someone recently broke into one of the park displays looking for electricity, said DeMaertelaere.
"Gyro Park is less than ideal for restored artifacts," said DeMaertelaere.
The Land Conservancy of BC had their books seized and their accounts frozen by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in late August over unpaid taxes. As a non-profit organization, TLC cannot sell any of the 300 properties they care for throughout the province to clear their debt because they are a non-profit society. They can, however, discuss partnerships with other non-profit organizations in caring for the properties.
According to a press release sent out by Briony Penn, vice chair of TLC's board of directors, the restructuring process will result in a "financially stronger organization". She went onto state the "TLC cannot jeopardize the protection of any of the conservation properties it has secured over the past 15 years."
However, the instability of the situation has caused the Boundary Museum Society some concern.
Since the seizure, the TLC has begun restructuring, including a move into donated facilities and developing a repayment plan to the CRA.
"Hopefully it will be straightened out," said DeMaertelaere. "Hopefully that project will get going again.”
Museum looking for $6,000 to help with artifact storage
Moving the storage containers, creating a concrete pad for them and blending them into the current Fructova site has cost the museum society about $45,000, said DeMaertelaere.
Fortunately, much of that money has been granted to the museum society by the Vancouver Foundation, a non-profit organization that manages endowment funds to be distributed to non-profits like the museum society. They also received money from the Regional District Kootenay Boundary and the Boundary Recreation Society. They just need $6,000 more to finish the project, said DeMaertelaere.
Now the storage containers have been moved, members of the Boundary Woodworkers Guild have volunteered to build a roof over them, side them and create a special covered outdoor display area for the recently restored stage coach and some historical forestry equipment.
Once they’re done, DeMaertelaere said the storage containers will have false fronts on them that will allow them to blend in with the existing buildings located on the historical site.
“It should look pretty sharp,” he said.
He’s hoping the storage area will be completed in time to move the stage coach before the weather turns.