Councillor calls on province to step up on New Brunswick Museum project

·2 min read
The current location of the New Brunswick Museum public exhibits is in Market Square in uptown Saint John. The location is closed to the public and has a badly leaking roof. (www.amnb.ca - image credit)
The current location of the New Brunswick Museum public exhibits is in Market Square in uptown Saint John. The location is closed to the public and has a badly leaking roof. (www.amnb.ca - image credit)

New Brunswick currently has no functioning provincial museum open to the public, and a Saint John city councillor is calling on the government to step up to change that.

Coun. David Hickey says the New Brunswick Museum in Market Square is closed because the roof is leaking badly, but there are no concrete plans for a replacement building.

The developers of the $24 million Fundy Quay project on Saint John's waterfront have said they're open to the idea of including a museum in that project, but have shared no specifics and made no promises.

The former Liberal government under Brian Gallant promised $50 million for the project. but it was cancelled by the Higgs government four years ago.

Hickey said a good option would be to leverage the Fundy Quay commercial and residential development to include a museum, but that can't go ahead without buy-in from the province.

"Unfortunately with the museum, the province is the driver," he said. "And right now, the car is either stalled on the side of the road or we don't know where it's going."

Not having a museum "stalls our growth," Hickey said.

"It's rather embarrassing to not have that offering," he told Information Morning Saint John.

Graham Thompson, CBC
Graham Thompson, CBC

In an emailed statement, the provincial Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture said the department is working with museum officials to identify a permanent solution.

"We have increased our online presence, and as part of that initiative we have launched a new online boutique. Archival services at Douglas Avenue remain open to the public and to researchers," the statement said.

Museum officials have previously said the museum's aging Douglas Avenue collections centre is running out of room and and has poor ventilation and issues with mould, putting the artifacts at risk.

The department said staff are working on a management project for the museum's heritage items and documents in preparation for a "modernization project."

The statement did not say if the modernization project means the province would update the current facility or build a new one.

Julia Wright/CBC News
Julia Wright/CBC News
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