The Town of Qualicum Beach has had an aversion in recent years to call in consultants on matters large or small, who bring their experience from some other place or circumstance but are short on local factors. The results have been dissatisfaction. This time it is a similar case in regards to the museum.
The McIntosh building was hauled in pieces from Port Alberni, reconfigured and erected by the concerted efforts of the members and the support from the community. The bricks were cleaned one at a time and when the building was enclosed the inside finishing was done by volunteers.
Members gave or loaned money as needed. One locally-born member loaned $5,000 and then slowly paid back the loan with funds from cans he found during his early morning walks. He then went on to panel the front entrance with oak veneer.
Eight years ago, the board decided to focus on the attraction of the outstanding fossil collection by putting the collection on the lower floor and social history on the upper floor. As anticipated there have been visitors from around the world.
Now a new board has brought in a consultant and has started implementing a new plan where the paneled entrance will be removed, a larger office will be made at the far end of the building (at a time when attractions will be reduced) and some of the displays created to show the local history will be destroyed including the removal of the audio stations.
Some of the social history will be moved to the lower floor and some of the fossils moved to the top floor. Currently, a paleontology symposium will have to be relocated to Nanaimo who will then enjoy all the economic benefits and acclaim.
“New blood” can rejuvenate a board or it can lead to a disaster if they do not know the history of, or do not respect the contributions of those that had the vision and determination to create the society in the first place.
One reason given to justify reconfiguring was that the stair was not correctly constructed, whereas, in fact it is to the same specifications as the stairs in the town hall. This raises the question as to what value the new board puts on history when it rejects the history of the museum and the research the board and volunteers did in providing the building and exhibits.
This is more in keeping with the change of parties in power in government where each new official seems compelled to remodel or redecorate their office. I hope future boards and councils will turn to persons with local concerns and knowledge rather than the “experts.”
Art SkipseyQualicum Beach