Railway Museum Pavilion Project- What Now?
Prince George, B.C. – “Disappointed” that’s the one word reaction from Fraser Fort George Railway and Forestry Museum CEO Ranjit Gill to the decision by the Regional District of Fraser Fort George to simply receive a report on the museum’s request for $100 thousand dollars for its Pavilion project.
In a special meeting held yesterday, the Regional District mulled over the request, but the only action taken was to receive the report which detailed the request and the RDFFG’s Cultural Plan. There was no recommendation made to support or reject the request for funds. ( see previous story)
The Pavilion Project is aimed at making the exhibits accessible to all, and to provide those exhibits with protection from the elements. The overall budget for the project is $1.2 million dollars, and Gill says most of those dollars represent “in kind” donations. She says the actual outstanding cash amount to bring this project to fruition is between $300 and $400 thousand.
“It’s a community project, it should have community support” says Gill who notes a similar project in Pemberton in 2014 received financial support from its local government.
When the project was first announced, Gill said it would not go forward until it had the money to do it, so why is it in this position now? “Because the Museum had already expended $250 thousand dollars. The Museum is putting in an additional $250 thousand dollars we have funding secured for another $50 thousand dollars and we’ve had lots of in kind, I am sure things like heavy equipment, I am sure we can get it donated. So a lot of the funds needed are ‘in kind’ but we do still need $300 to $400 thousand dollars.”
Gill says the project will impact the entire region “We are bringing in over a hundred people from all over the world to build it and they will have an opportunity to visit Prince George, to visit all the locations these Directors (RDFFG) represent, enjoy our hospitality and the volunteer spirit Prince George and area has.”
Members of the Timber Framers Guild will be coming to P.G. to build the pavilion which will provide an educational opportunity . UNBC’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre will be working in collaboration with the Timber Framers using the project as a training platform. Training content will be available for the entire volunteer crew and the public in many areas of timber frame construction from basic timber framing skills to fabrication techniques for large projects right through to project management skills.
The project had applied for grant funding from Northern Development Initiative Trust under its economic diversification fund, but the project did not meet the strict criteria for that fund. Instead, NDIT provided a grant of $30 thousand under its Community Recreation Facility Fund.
Gill is still waiting for final word on a couple of grant applications “I am still waiting for the Canada 150, the Provincial Government just announced $5 million dollars towards capital projects for non for profits but the applications haven’ t come out yet. I am just plugging away.”
Mayor Lyn Hall says he knows the project is a “good project for the us, the City of Prince George, and the Region.” He has suggested the Regional District Directors work with the Museum to try and open as many doors as possible to help secure the remaining needed dollars. That may be a tough sell though as both the City of Prince George and the Regional District have not committed to contributing themselves “There’s no question, it might be a difficult sell, but I still think we need to take a look at other avenues. Both organizations, the Regional District and the City, saw this as an impact on taxes for residents so we just need to look for other sources.”
Gill is no quitter and is determined to keep this project on track “I am still looking for funding for our project, it is going to go ahead.”