The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin Society has decided they want to bring the museum back to the downtown core.
At their AGM on Nov. 23, Sheila Wyse proposed a motion directing the board that “the museum be moved to a standalone site in the downtown core until a permanent home for the museum can be built in the community.”
“I really, really believe that the museum belongs in the downtown core where it’s been for so long and it had an identity,” she told the Tribune.
“I think it runs the risk of being lost in the consciousness of everyone in the community.”
The museum is currently stationed at the Tourism Discovery Centre, after they were forced to relocate when the city sold the land the museum had previously sat on to make way for a new residential care centre.
While there is a limited display now up at the centre, artifacts from the museum are scattered around the area. According to the AGM, some are being stored in a shipping container until they can be relocated, others are at the airport and more are at the TDC.
“It’s not big enough we know that, but that’s the short term,” Mayor Walt Cobb told the AGM attendees, adding the city has plans in place to relocate the museum to a permanent space, but that it may be three to five years before that happens.
“The city is prepared to do some renovations in the Tourism Discovery Center. [If we can] find some other place for storage, the whole basement can then be the museum,” he said
Many museum members, including Wyse, emphasized that while they realize the city is doing their best to find accommodation for the museum they don’t think the tourism centre is the best place for it.
“I think it loses its identity because people look at that structure and say it’s the tourism centre. They don’t think of it as being the museum and because so few of the actual artifacts can be on display out there — we’re losing our history,” she said.
A subsequent motion, passed by the majority of attendees directed the board to look into finding rental spaces in the downtown core before Dec. 15, as well as investigate how the museum might pay for such a space.
“I really hope that the board now will strike a committee that will look at any possible site that is right downtown or geared close to downtown and then discuss with the city to see whether the financing is there to be able to pay for rent somewhere else,” said Wyse. “There are a myriad of questions that need to be answered but I felt it was important to have a committee do that work .”
According to the 2018 budget presented by the museum, they are projecting a deficit of $16,875 for the next year, following a $38,258 surplus this year.
“With this motion I’m not sure you’re going to find a space that is affordable,” Cobb told attendees, adding they looked into renting the old Sears building before moving the museum to the Tourism Centre, but that it was too expensive.
George Atamanenko, reelected as president of the society, told the Tribune that he supports the motion to bring the museum back to the downtown 100 per cent, and hopes that city council will help the society figure out how to do that.
“People are talking about money — that comes — but you have to get the direction. These principles that the motion has passed are the first step,” he said.
Despite his caution about financing, Cobb did, however, reiterate his support for the institution.
“In my mind we can’t let the museum fall apart.”