Museum open to referendum for service funding

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
February 10th, 2011

As the municipal elections creep closer, referendum questions are being floated by the local governments. In a presentation to Grand Forks City Council at their last meeting, the Boundary Museum Society (BMS) asked the city for help in determining a service location for the community’s archives, and went on to give their support for a local referendum on funding.  Bob DeMartelaere, board member of the museum society, gave a short report for council dating back to previous discussions about the communities archives. The Grand Forks Art Gallery Society has discussed with the museum the use of archives and information for the gallery heritage project with consultant Roger Boulet. BMS agreed to allow Boulet access for his research at the museum.  “While we are disappointed that the Gallery has chosen to go this direction, we wish them luck with their project,” said DeMartelaere. “This leaves the city and the Boundary Museum with a decision to make with regards to the community archives. A portion of the basement at Fructova could be used for this purpose and would be the lowest cost solution.”  But DeMartelaere explained that if the council felt it important to house the archives within the city limits, they must assist in locating an appropriate facility to house them. Fire protection is the number one concern for the archives. Initially, BMS hoped that the archives could be housed in the vault within the art gallery facility, but that avenue has been closed.  In 2010 the museum hired consultant Linda Willis to provide advice on the archives. “Linda has been nothing short of amazing as she guided us through what seemed to be an insurmountable task. As well as helping the museum with the archives, on her own time and as a favour to this community, she has taken the opportunity to meet and give archival guidance to our local organizations,” commented DeMartealere.  “Perhaps it is time that the community has a voice, and the museum society has no fear about going to the public in a referendum. We only ask that we be presented as a service group and not as an interest group. We look forward to solving both the question of a home for the archives and the referendum.”  The BMS had a service agreement with the city that ended in 2009. Councillor Chris Moslin questioned if the society would be willing to re-enter into a service agreement with city, to share management of archives with city – possibly in the basement – and share the skills to develop the service. DeMartealere said that the service would require a combination of volunteer and paid staff and that the museum would be interested in including the city’s archives. He also confirmed that the museum would be more than willing to re-negotiate a service agreement.  Councillor Gene Robert gave his support for the shared archives and the society’s decision to move past old animosities. “We need to take the high road and move on. I respect the decision of the (museum) board to work with Roger Boulet, and I respect the notion that the gallery is prepared to pay for that service. That’s keeping that money that’s been allocated in this community,” he said.  When asked about the large artifact displays currently located in Gyro Park, DeMartealere said, “I think ultimately what this community needs for their bigger artifacts, and the only reason we don’t have more big artifacts is that we have no place to put them, I think we’re going to need a combination. There’s nothing wrong with having pieces throughout the city, I think that’s a wonderful idea, I think you’re going to find you’re going to have to have a big building somewhere to house them and work on them, and so forth. That’s an ambitious plan.”  In highlighting some of the museum’s other achievements over the past year, DeMartealere went on to say that the museum has been grateful for the use of the building at the wood workers facility to assist in restoration work and the contribution of that building from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.  “Boundary museum also pleased to announce an alliance between the museum and the Granby Wilderness Society (GWS),” DeMartealere explained. “It is hoped that the historic reservoir at Saddle Lake which is home to the rare Tiger Salamander can be protected. GWS will help with nature displays and in return the museum will provide a staging area for tourism and facilities including the new shade house outdoor classroom.”  Museum is also working with the flour mill society for summer tours, and a training module for tour guides. Museum remains heavily involved with the Doukhobor heritage centre and they are actively working on other joint ventures.

Council received their report.