On January 1 the Library & Museum Building Committees installed a new sign in place of the For Sale sign on their proposed location on Main St. It reads, “Future Home of LIBRARY & MUSEUM” – an admittedly bold statement since approvals still need to be obtained.

At the public unveiling of the new sign, Al Birnie (the Library Chair) and Marilyn Wheeler (Museum Chair) along with their committees were clearly pleased with the work completed thus far.

William Clark, chair of the Library/Museum Building Committee, emphasized they have not yet bought the building but are starting their drive to raise funds to acquire it. They are having a public unveiling of their plans Jan. 24th to which everyone is invited.

On Oct. 17th some 94 people gathered in the Elks Hall to hear the message that the McBride and District Library and its partner McBride Museum had a proposal to acquire a new home downtown at 521 Main Street, the entrance to the Village. This high profile location would allow adequate space for the foreseeable future, ensure space for growth, educational opportunities, public meetings, library museum workspace and storage space, the proponents say.

In October, Village Councillor Rick Thompson, among others, advised the need for preparation and presentation of a business plan. This will be presented to the public, to the Village Council and to Regional District of Fraser Fort George representatives (The Library and Museum are Regional District facilities). The business plan and other issues will be discussed at the upcoming open house to be held on Jan. 24th (location and time to be announced).

The McBride and District Library and Archives is a regional district-run service, not a municipal one. Both the current and the proposed locations are located inside Village limits, however.

Ken Starchuck, director for Area H (Robson Valley) for the Regional District of Fraser Fort George, said on Sunday that he had not yet finished reviewing the library and museum boards’ proposal, but intended to discuss the issue with regional district staff later this week when he attended regular regional district meetings. When asked what he thought about the sign installed on the building on Main St. he said he had no comment.

Counc. Thompson says he hasn’t finished going through the proposal. When asked what he thought about the sign installed on the building on Main St. he replied, “Well, there’s a sign on a building.”
Mayor Mike Frazier, who also sits as a director on the regional district, could not be reached for comment.

The new 7,000 square foot facility (current version is 3,000 square feet) will allow for an increase in the number of books. Currently there are 17,810 books, DVD, Audio Books, Magazines, Puzzles and 21,500 electronic items available for use or loan. In a recent interview Naomi Balla-Boudreau spoke about the possibilities for more programming to be introduced both in Adult Education space and in easily converted lounge space. The library component will also contain a larger Children’s Library. In addition plans call for the museum to have a larger display space, permanent displays (including a Round House diorama of the old station area) and an area to display travelling exhibits such as the current Remembrance Display.

The group will need to raise $1.2 million to complete the first phase project of the project.

All of this is subject to approval of the floor plans and the related business plan and related drawings which are now ready. The business plan has been completed by working with a joint committee of the Library and Museum Board and chaired by Clark. This committee has been supported in its work by a Consultant from Victoria who is an expert in his field. This work will be presented at the public meeting which will be held on January 24 in the new space. Mr. Clark confirmed their Consultant would be at that meeting for questions.

However the two groups are enthusiastic that this can be achieved and will map out their plans at the above noted meeting. They have an understanding with the landlord to hold the property off the market until June with a potential agreement or plan to secure that agreement.

Chris Parker
RMG Columnist