The vision of a museum in 100 Mile House is being hindered by a lack of available volunteers to fundraise and champion the project.
Last April, $50,000 was provided to the District of 100 Mile House after Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett lobbied for the one-time provincial grant.
Now, Mayor Mitch Campsall says a new community group is needed to take on the operational aspects of getting The Lodge repaired and safe for the public use.
“Basically, we need someone, or a group of people, to champion it.”
The previous group managing the project, the 100 Mile & District Historical Society (OMDHS), wasn’t able to continue working on the project on top of all its ongoing volunteer labour operating the 108 Heritage Site museum, he explains.
Upon receipt of the grant, Campsall says the district quickly came up with the funds to bring the budget up to the anticipated $80,000 required to rebuild an unsafe floor in The Lodge.
However, he adds District council engaged an architect to provide a complete overview of the whole facility, which identified a number of other safety issues related to public assembly.
Meanwhile, a Sept. 7 referendum made the Cariboo Regional District a partner in making decisions on certain District facilities, including the Martin Exeter Hall complex, which includes The Lodge.
Now, Campsall says it is up to the South Cariboo Joint Planning Committee to provide council with recommendations for the complex, and then more third-party funding will be sought.
OMDHS president Tom Rutledge says its members had dealt with mayor and council for two or three years on the project, before finally realizing two big projects was too much to handle.
“We threw up our hands in frustration when the mayor and council said, ‘$50,000 is just a drop in the bucket, we’re going to need a whole lot more if we’re going to open it to [public assembly].”
Since then, the society has removed all the artifacts it had gathered for the museum, Rutledge explains, and temporarily stored them in a safe and secure location.
Until another group is found to organize the project and help find grants, Campsall says there isn’t much the district can do.
When it does look for funding, the district won’t risk its ability to obtain the necessary grants for crucial infrastructure projects, he explains.
“We’ve been looking for out-source money, we’ve been trying to find the money to do that repair job without affecting the budget.”
Meanwhile, Barnett says council should also provide a council member to work with a new volunteer group, which could gain helpful advice from the OMDHS, as well as the stored artifacts.
“I say it’s time for the District to get a councillor, and call on the volunteers to sit down and put such a great project together.
“We can do it working together. We can always find money somewhere, but let’s just get it done.”
The Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA adds the grant deadline of March 31, 2015 to complete the floor can likely be extended, if necessary, but she sees no reason why the floor can’t be fixed now, and then work on funding for the rest later.
“I really and sincerely hope by 2015 we are well on the way … if I wasn’t doing this job, I would be more than happy to work on the museum project. But, I’ll help wherever I can.”