Museum committee asking for council’s commitment

·2 min read

NORTH HURON – The museum committee has asked North Huron council to commit to owning and operating the North Huron Museum before they spend the time necessary to complete a proposal.

Council had a lengthy discussion at their Nov. 16 meeting. Councillors expressed their concerns, reiterating the KPMG service review recommendations that the township should not be in the business of operating a museum.

The KPMG report said that “the facility appears to be in need of a significant investment of upwards of $4 million.”

They advised council in their report to consider “seeking out a third party to be responsible for the operation of the facility, including the assumption of gains or losses.” If that were not a viable option, they should “cease operations of the facility and determine how the township can display its exhibits through alternate means such as making use of other municipal facilities.”

The report, presented by Vicki Luttenberger, director of recreation and community services, said that if council were to decide to discontinue museum programming and services, the township would need to commit both staff and financial resources for the deaccessioning of the museum collection. It is estimated that process would take approximately 12-18 months.

Previously, volunteers ran the museum, and the township allocated $20,000 annually.

The concern for additional costs associated with staffing requirements set out by the Government of Ontario, specifically hiring a full-time curator, was also discussed at length.

A proposal to the previous council indicated that North Huron could obtain the former Wingham train station for $1.

This proposal contained stipulations, including that North Huron staff be responsible for the day-to-day operations and commit to doing so for 20 years.

Without a good business/financial plan, councillors are unwilling to commit to taking over the daily operations. The financial obligation needs to be presented to them, and an operational plan is required.

Council prepared a motion to send back to the museum committee to prepare two proposals: one that utilizes township funds and one that doesn’t. Without this information, council feels they can not make an informed decision.

Council also directed the museum committee to reach out to the current owner of the train station, Doug Kuyvenhoven, to determine if the stipulations set out in the offer to donate the train station for $1 are still the same as proposed to the previous council.

They would like to confirm the stipulations to make sure they are still on the table or if revisions can be made for reconsideration.

This matter will be before council again at a future meeting.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times