Opinion

Don't mess with heritage in Alberni

For the past 30 years, Jean McIntosh has overseen the care and development of the Alberni Valley’s most precious pieces of history. as executive director of the Alberni Valley Museum. For three decades she has managed a growing cultural identity with a shrinking budget and dwindling staff.

While her impending departure gives the city the opportunity to streamline her job title—they have advertised for a ‘manager of museum, heritage and culture’—and perhaps save a few dollars on salary, it should not give council the right to gut the entire program.

The suggestion of running the museum and heritage network with a volunteer board is bewildering. We are relieved that this idea was not given credence.

The city has invested considerable money and time in developing its four-pronged heritage network: a museum with a good reputation, the Maritime Discovery Centre located in the midst of a working waterfront, a steam train and railroad that is starting to make money, and the at-times-controversial McLean Mill National Historic Site, which has put Port Alberni on the national map despite operating in the red since it opened more than a decade ago.

We acknowledge that many volunteers already put hundreds if not thousands of hours into ensuring these attractions are interesting.

However, keeping this network operating smoothly, and finding the funding to make it so, is a full-time job. And it should stay that way.

* Alberni Valley News

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