People living in Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes area are going to be asked to support the village museum through their taxes.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay plans to raise $20,000 annually for the museum through what’s called a Grant in Aid Service Area.
The public will be asked to vote for the new tax — or against it — in the new year.
“This vote is hugely important,” said Linda Dixon, the president of the Nakusp and Area Museum Society. “It’s important for people who have lived their whole lives here, it’s important for people who just moved here who don’t know the community’s history.”
Dixon says the money will be used to give the museum — located in the basement of the Library on 6th Ave — a source of steady funding to hire a permanent, part-time curator.
“The museum is open from the May long weekend to October, and that’s when we need to hire somebody,” said Dixon. “We need a curator. It’s a job that’s been done by volunteers since it’s been open.”
The curator would keep the doors open during tourism season, maintain the displays, make long-term plans, do the myriad of paperwork needed to run a museum, and manage any summer students the facility hires. The job’s been done to date by paying a person for 12 hours/week, but it’s not good enough, says Dixon.
“We need a consistent person,” she said. “Everything so far has been done year-by-year, bit-by-bit. You can’t do long-term planning. You can’t say ‘let’s go for this thing that’s happening in five years, so let’s do a strategic plan.’”
The museum hopes it can attract someone willing to work for the six months, find other employment in winter, then return the next summer, on an ongoing basis.
“We need somebody who can be trained in museum studies and processes so that all the artifacts are safe,” she said. “That’s our mandate, to collect and preserve in good condition all these things.
“Well, if no one has that knowledge or experience, we can’t possibly do it.”
The RDCK estimates the new tax would amount to an extra $4.68 on a property assessed at $100,000 or $18.72 for a property assessed at $400,000.
“How many cups of coffee can you buy with that? Maybe four or five?” asks Dixon. “It’s nothing, you know, in the general scheme of things, and the museum really deserves it.”
Voters in Nakusp and parts of Area K — the same tax area that funds the library — will have a say on the new tax.
The RDCK will proceed with the taxation through what’s called an Alternative Approval Process. The regional government will go ahead with the tax unless it hears from at least 10 per cent of area taxpayers. If that number objects to the new taxation, the RDCK will then take the tax plan to a referendum of all taxpayers.
The village council gave its approval for the AAP vote at its last meeting.
The museum operates on a shoestring now, with rent from the village at a dollar a year, and lights and heat paid for by the library, which occupies the rest of the building. The physical work is all done by volunteers.
Dixon is hoping taxpayers will see the value of supporting the museum.
“This is such a huge asset to this village,” she said. “This collection is incredible, it’s amazing what we have.
“I have worked at other community museums and nobody has a collection like this. I’ve worked in the Okanagan, and nobody has what we have here.”
“And it’s so valuable because this area has such a poignant history in the first place. Because of the flooding in the valley, it really decimated people.
“To have these things available as a testimonial to how resilient people are, to able to spring up, come back from that. To me, it is really valuable.”