Regional District Decides Not to Decide
Prince George, B.C. – The request from the Railway Museum for $100 thousand dollars from the Regional District of Fraser Fort George garnered no decision from the Regional District.
The Museum made the request to move forward on its project to provide accessible access to many of the rail exhibits and provide some protection from the elements for those exhibits.
But the Regional District has a cultural plan which provides stable funding to eight cultural areas within the region. The problem is, the Regional District doesn’t provide capital funding for those venues.
There are a couple of concerns with the request.
First, if the request is granted, will other venues in need of capital upgrades be calling for similar dollars to address their capital needs?.
Director Murry Krause who is on the Regional District’s Cultural Committee says “Off the top of my head, it just doesn’t seem fair” He says while a needs assessment of the cultural venues has not been done, there are examples of needs already surfacing, such as Exploration Place wanting to increase its holding area for artifacts.
Then there is the impact on the tax requisition. There is nothing in the Regional District’s budget that would cover this amount, so the tax requisition would have to be bumped up by .55 percent. In Prince George, that means the tax levy per 100 thousand dollars of assessment would increase from 57.33 to 57.88.
“Have we really looked at everything that is possible?” asked Director Albert Koehler who wanted to know if all other possible sources have been explored and exhausted.
Director Jeannette Townsend said the project is worthwhile and suggested the Canada 150 fund may have dollars available.
The project has an estimated price tag of $1.2 million, and Director Pat Crook says this request “Is only a drop in the bucket. The way I look at it, there’s still $923 thousand that is needed, and the project is supposed to start this summer, that’s a very short time frame to raise the balance of the funds.”
Museum CEO Ranjit Gill says that figure is not accurate, that much of the projected budget costs are for “in kind” donations, that the actual outstanding balance is closer to $300 to $400 thousand..
One other issue is that the Railway Museum has already received $50 thousand dollars in the form of an accessibility grant. While the works have started, the grant required the project to be complete within a year. The Railway Museum has received one extension and is in discussion to have that extension lengthened.
In the end, the only decision the Regional District made was to receive the report which outlined the request and the history of the cultural plan funding.