Powell River Regional District rural residents will be contributing to an increased budget for Powell River Historical Museum and Archives, but not without opposition from two directors.
The 2013 budget request from Powell River Historical Museum and Archives Association includes an increase of $35,569 compared to 2012 to create a new position. Because the museum curator is retiring in April, the proposal is to combine that part-time position with the archivist position for a full-time position and create an additional full-time administrative position, heritage manager.
City of Powell River directors on the regional board, Maggie Hathaway and Jim Palm, asked rural directors to consider contributing to this increase. As well, Lee Coulter, president of the association, asked directors to consider funding the museum and archives as a regional entity. Currently, the city provides core funding for the association.
During a special board meeting held on Tuesday, March 26, a majority of directors passed a resolution authorizing a $35,569 general grant to the museum.
General grants are shared about 50-50 between the city and rural areas, based on assessment values. The grant to the museum breaks down as follows:
• City of Powell River, $17,992.
• Area A, $8,120.
• Area B, $2,214.
• Area C, $3,538
• Texada Island, $2,443.
• Lasqueti Island, $1,262.
Colin Palmer, board chair and Area C director, and Stan Gisborne, Area B director, voted in opposition to the motion.
Palmer said he wasn’t opposed to funding the museum, but he was upset by the process. “There’s no service, but we give a grant in aid and we’re going to discuss the service next year,” he said. “I don’t like that. I think if we’re going to have a new service where people have to vote for a new service, then we should be working it that way.”
Unlike municipalities, regional districts have separate and distinct services. The regional district would have to create a service in order to tax rural residents for contributions toward the museum. The process of creating a service usually involves raising the idea, conducting a feasibility study and developing and adopting a bylaw. Approval of the participating areas is also required. That can be obtained by a referendum or using the alternative approval process. In some cases, approval may be given on behalf of a participating area by a municipal council, an electoral area director or the regional board.
Palmer said he was also concerned because there was no guarantee the money would be available in 2014 for the new position at the museum.
Texada Island Director Dave Murphy pointed out there was an historical society on Texada and two museums. Texada residents contribute $20,000 from their taxes for the museums. “It would be something that I would want to opt out of, because we have our own, unless there was something of mutual benefit,” he said. “But, I’m open for discussion.”
Palm said he left the special board meeting in a quandary. “I wasn’t really feeling good, because I don’t want a small issue like this to muddy the water in terms of where we go forward from here in terms of relationship,” he told directors at the March 28 regional board meeting. “We want all of the synergies to work for the betterment of the entire region. We want to work with you hand in hand.”
He understands that the process and the timelines were not ideal, Palm added. “It was rushed. There should have been far more input and debate and discussion around the allocation of funding in regard to the museum.”