Texada Island residents have rejected the idea of participating in a regional heritage service.
Regional service would spread the cost of Texada Island Museum and Archives and Powell River Historical Museum and Archives to all city and electoral area taxpayers.
Texada residents currently provide $20,000 for the island museum’s location inside Texada Elementary School and the mining exhibit at Blubber Bay.
Texada Island Heritage Society directors Ken Barton and Rob McWilliam appeared before Powell River Regional District board’s committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, April 13, to provide the committee with islanders’ thoughts.
“We have some concerns about this process you’re wanting to embark on,” Barton told the committee. “We thought we’d do our best to give you our concerns as best we can.”
McWilliam told the committee that since 2014, when the idea of a regional heritage service came up, Texada Island Heritage Society has repeatedly told the regional district, and the island’s regional director, that it does not support the idea.
“We’re here today to tell you that Texada does not wish to be included in this study you’re proposing,” said McWilliam.
Barton and McWilliam explained that the reason islanders do not want to participate is because they feel their concerns will not be heard at the regional board, with its weighted system that gives city directors multiple votes.
According to regional district chief administrative officer Al Radke’s report on establishing the regional service, it would not pertain to governance, just funding. The regional service would reduce the current $8.30 per $100,000 Texada residents pay for their museum by almost half.
Radke further clarified at the meeting that when they establish the voting structure, a one-director, one-vote system can be chosen.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said that may be the case, but Texada would still prefer to not participate.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the feelings and opinions they are bringing to this table truly represent the general population on the Texada,” she said. “I don’t believe this group is opposed to the creation of a regional service, only that Area D wouldn’t be a participant in that service.”
Meanwhile, Powell River Historical Museum and Archives manager Bert Finnamore said after the meeting that he welcomed the idea of stable funding for the museums.
“The service is really important because at the moment the funding we get is ad hoc,” said Finnamore. “We spend a lot of time each year and a lot of effort to keep us going.”
Powell River Historical Museum and Archives received $39,000 in a grant-in-aid, paid by residents of the city and electoral areas, that it applies for annually.
Finnamore said stable funding will be increasingly important as more tourists visit the region. The Powell River museum recorded more than 4,000 visits in 2016, a first in its history, he said. Over half of those visits were from tourists, he added.
“When you start to view heritage on a regional scale, the northern Sunshine Coast, the area where we live, has a lot more to offer in terms of history than it currently does,” said Finnamore. “We are not the museum of the City of Powell River, our collections are regional. Our audience is regional and we all get the same visitors.”
A decision to establish a regional heritage service will be made at an upcoming regional board meeting.