By Cindy Filipenko
The fate of a new Pemberton Museum building is in the hands of the Village of Pemberton (VOP) council.
Pemberton Museum and Archives Society President George Henry, and board member Niki Madigan, pushed home this point in a presentation to council June 5. A council decision last month to not exempt the museum from paying development cost charges (DCCs) could very well make the building economically unfeasible.
Donated labour, professional services and materials allowed the budget for the building to come in at a rock bottom $50,000. The DCCs amount to a third of that budget: $16,780. To illustrate what this meant to the museum board, Henry put this number in terms of fundraising effort.
“An additional financial burden of this magnitude looks like this in terms of our fundraisers: three years of dinner auctions, the sale of 11,230 bottles of beer at our functions, it’s proceeds of 15 country fairs, it’s the proceeds of 130 flea markets, it’s 18 years of Toonie Tuesday teas,” he said.
Henry made the case that since the new building required no change to existing parking, water supply or sewer the DCCs should be waived.
Planner Richard Diamond confirmed that DCCs could not be waived as they are a requirement of the Local Government Act. Though, as demonstrated with the Pemberton Childcare Society (PCS) decision last month, there are ways around it. In the PCS case, council collected DCCs and then basically reimbursed the non-profit organization via its grant-in-aid.
“We feel it’s morally wrong to levy fees on a non-profit group volunteering their efforts,” Henry said. “We’re offering to put a building on your land and you want to charge us for the privilege of doing so.” (The museum land is owned by the VOP.)
Madigan, who also sits on the Whistler Museum board, said that the new two-storey building, which would offer both administration and display space, is sorely needed. She pointed out that demands for research will likely increase as people become more interested in the area’s history leading up to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
She noted that the collection is extensive; with 1,130 records pertaining to objects in the museum and another 136 categories of historical documents.
“Those documents are not accessible to the public right now,” Madigan said. “But they could be if it was databased and supported by a web application.”
Mayor Jordan Sturdy agreed that the museum is a worthwhile community investment, but pointed to current cost overruns. He suggested that the issue required further discussion at a staff and council level.
“If council insists on collecting this fee, the project won’t proceed,” stated Henry.
The issue has been referred to a working session of council on June 19.