The Kettle River Museum in Midway will not be open for the public this summer.
The museum’s board of directors made the decision last month to keep its doors closed , after deciding that keeping things cleaned up to COVID-19 standards would be too taxing for the volunteers who staff the building.
Because visitors can normally touch objects and wander through the grounds, managing director Stephanie Boltz said, it would just be too much to do, anytime someone came through. It would also cost the museum much more in terms of protective equipment and cleaning supplies. Boltz estimated that the museum would have to front at least $5,000 in initial costs to implement new COVID-19 prevention measures.
The closure also means that drivers won’t have access to the museum’s washrooms, nor its capacity as a visitor centre. While the B.C. government announced some financial support for many visitor centres across the province to help them stay clean through the summer, Boltz said that the museum did not qualify because it is not an official centre under the province’s designation.
The board’s decision also means that the Kettle River Museum’s Bunkhouse will have to wait another year before it can mark its first full season sheltering guests who are travelling along the old rail bed. Because it is shared accommodations, Boltz said, even if one person stayed in one of the bunk rooms, the entire building – washrooms, kitchen and all bedrooms – would have to be sanitized. It would just be too much to ask of the volunteers, Boltz said.
The museum does however have funding for two summer students, and Boltz said that one will be working on developing online resources for the museum, so that people can still visit and learn this summer, just over the internet instead.