Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Grand Forks city council holds back funding for Boundary Museum

The museum closed its doors last month, following the departure of its last administrator

City hall has suspended payments to the Boundary Museum Society (BMS), triggering the society’s impromptu annual general meeting (AGM) Monday, Dec. 13. The museum shut its doors last month, following the resignation of its most recent administrator, according to board chair Joe Tatangelo.

Mayor Brian Taylor said Tuesday, Dec. 6, that the society’s board is “in crisis,” having fallen behind on some of its key funding obligations to the city and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s (RDKB’s) areas C and D. These funding partners give the BMS around $105,000 in annual fees for service, $80,000 of which comes from the City of Grand Forks, according to Taylor and Tatanegelo.

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The board, which includes no city residents, has not held an AGM in the last two years, Mayor and council heard at last month’s committee of the whole meeting. Board secretary and treasurer Kathy Rush meanwhile did not provide a financial report or a budget with Tatangelo’s request that council release BMS’s last quarterly installment of roughly $23,000.

Motioning to suspend that payment, Coun. Chris Moslin conceded Rush’s point that the museum’s mandate is to preserve the “entire history of the (Kettle River) valley.” Agreeing with Tataneglo, who said the board can’t include or exclude directors based on where they live, Moslin said Grand Forks’ taxpayers couldn’t possibly decide to keep the Boundary Museum running without an AGM.

“They have not had a voice to make that decision because they have not had an AGM to show up for. So, the city continues to fund a hugely disproportionate amount for a museum in the regional district, five kilometres out of town, on a hillside,” he told Tatangelo and Rush. “I need to see demonstrable proof that the citizens of Grand Forks are willing to pay that amount of money,” he continued.

Moslin’s resolution passed at council’s regular meeting on Nov. 8., triggering BMS’s upcoming AGM.

Tataneglo said Tuesday that he and his fellow directors have come under intense scrutiny for having put off AGMs throughout the pandemic.

“COVID is screwing everything up,” he told The Gazette, noting that the board’s seven members can’t easily get together. The board decided in mid-November to shutter the museum over the winter, which Tatangelo said coincided with the loss of its third administrator in roughly 18 months.

“A few have come and gone over the years,” he said. “A lot of people have blamed the board, but it’s not all our fault. They’ve quit on us and there’s not much we can do about that.” Tatengelo later qualified that the board “let go” its second administrator roughly a year ago.

Rush told the committee that non-profit societies must hold an AGM at least once every three years, according to B.C.’s Society’s Act. Tatangelo said Monday’s AGM would cover 2021, while the board intends to hold another AGM in the spring. Section 71 of the act states that, “The directors of a society must call annual general meetings so that an annual general meeting is held in each calendar year,” though the act provides for short extensions.

“We’re looking forward to coming back with some fresh ideas,” he said, adding that the board wants to hire a grant-writer to secure future funding.

Speaking to The Gazette Tuesday, Area D Director Danna O’Donnell said she wanted society members to elect a board that could work with museum staff.

“I’m very concerned that the current board hasn’t met their obligations and I’m very concerned that they haven’t come up with a plan to keep the museum running. I understand that there are difficulties with COVID, but I believe they can keep it open,” she said.

O’Donnell said rural Grand Forks’ Area D kicks in $20,000 in annual contributions to the BMS, which she said is folded into regular payments issued by the city. The RDKB’s Area C (Christina Lake) puts in $5,000 every year, according to Taylor, Tatanegelo and O’Donnell.

The museum was open to the public over most of summer and fall 2021, according to Tatagelo.


 

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laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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