On Jan. 24th, some 200 residents gathered to learn more about a new location for the McBride and District Library and Museum in McBride. The meeting was held in the potential new facility at 521 Main Street, right at the entrance to town from Hwy 16.

The Open House was held between 3 and 8 pm allowed for two keynote presentations. Several members of the public noted that the lists of ideas and potential drawings were good, and being able to see the potential new space for themselves was meaningful.

Blueprints, financial plans and concept drawings were presented, but all the presenters were careful to point out that this material consisted of fluid data, information and feedback as needed and requested by various governmental and other agencies that have been consulted so far. The expectation is, this detailed information and documentation is subject to further review and change as the plan continues through the process. Repeatedly the presenters stated that ‘Everyone is important’ and all would be listened to. Thus what we saw was simply the start point on the journey.

During the 4pm presentation, the news was shared that subject to final approvals the two lots to the south of the main building had been ‘tentatively gifted’ to the project. To emphasize this generous present to the community, William Clark and Library Board Chair Al Birnie unveiled some new artwork which consisted of an artist’s conception of what the park area on those two lots could look like.

Consultant Michael Shoop explained his involvement and the help that he was providing to direct the board’s ongoing efforts in gathering the necessary information and then present it in a coherent fashion. He said he had introduced Clark to several government contacts in Victoria who had been helpful in moving this project along. In the evening session, Shoop shared with the crowd that a new initiative from the provincial archivist aims to send some of the historical exhibits currently in Provincial hands back to the regions around the province, when appropriate facilities are in place.

With potential blueprints, artists concept projections of different features, posters and other decorations adorning the room, the atmosphere in the new space contributed to the ambiance of the new facility. Fill the space with the large crowds of attendees and then introduce Consultant Dr. Shoop, Museum Chair Marilyn Wheeler, Library Chair Al Birnie, Librarian Naomi Balla-Boudreau, and Facility Chair William Clark as the presenters introduced – all well prepared and full of enthusiasm. The crowd was largely enthusiastic and supportive in their reception of the presentation. True there were some who had if not objections perhaps honest concern over the challenges that lay ahead. Following the meeting, the mayor and Village Council distributed a press release which outlined some of those issues, in particular:- questions over ownership, zoning, property taxation, ongoing operational costs and sustainability. Mayor Frazier said in his press release that Council is unable to comment until these issues are clarified.

In discussing this reluctance, Clark extended his gratitude to the Council and mayor for providing a list of the issues which they planned to address at a meeting with Council in the next couple of weeks. Clark said these and other similar questions had been raised by the Regional District, the governing body that oversees the operation of the library and museum. Clark said he appreciated the direction required by the levels of government and looks forward to providing answers in the next few weeks.

The McBride and District Library and Museum has the benefit of the leadership of Dr. Michael Shoop of Victoria in the preparation of a business case or plan relative to the potential new library facility for the McBride and District Library & Museum. Shoop holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Program for Leadership and Change with undergraduate work and a Masters in both Political Science & Economics and has enjoyed a lengthy career working between the private sector and the Provincial Government at many levels.

In particular he has worked extensively with Library Boards in Kootenay, Coquitlam, Whistler, Fraser Valley, Ontario and Saskatchewan. In addition he has done some preliminary work with the Prince George Library and in fact it was people from there that recommended him to the McBride Committee.

During an at the recent McBride and District Library/Museum open house he emphasized that in developing the case it is important to reinforce how any given project fits into the community it serves. Shoop further stressed the need for cooperation and involvement of local, regional and provincial representatives with the committee and that he will continue to direct a path towards that.

He also acknowledged he is not an architect and suggested his task was not to influence the shape of the building but to guide the committee as to what and when to present to whom in order for the the library and museum expansion committee to have the best opportunity of success. He also stressed the document being circulated was indeed a fluid document and subject to changes as it goes further through the development stages.

Chris Parker