After early in the evening voting down a motion to re-address a study that helped defeat the Pipe shop location for a new North Vancouver museum, City council continued a somewhat heated discussion Monday on other possible sites.
Councillor Don Bell submitted a motion to Council to have a “Public Review of BDO Report for New Museum in the Shipyards Pipe Shop”. In other words, the recommendations of the independent BDO report was a primary reason cited by members of Council in not supporting the museum in the Pipe Shop. Councillor Bell asserts that the response to the report were never fully discussed in a Council meeting open to the public.
Bell insists that some of the comparisons to other museums were not relevant and that the BDO report was a “poor report in my opinion”. He continued, “The comparison that I would have liked to see is MOHI, the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, which is on the waterfront, which charges an admission fee and is very successful.” Councillor Rod Clark supported Bell saying, “We did it in the dead of night” in voting down the original proposal and that “we need a clean airing of this motion”. He added, “Maybe we should dig deeper to our own pockets to make good on the promise we made to the community” in reference to $10 million provincial funds that was originally earmarked for the ill-fated Maritime Museum that has been spent elsewhere. Clark summed up by admitting, “Museums don’t make money, we shouldn’t expect them too. They are a responsibility of the city as part of our cultural fabric. The same was as community centres and cultural amenities and endeavors don’t make money, but they are a very important part of the fabric of the community.”
In opposition, Councillor Linda Buchanan stated, “It is the long term financial sustainability of this project that is troubling…we will have a museum, we are not dropping the museum.” Mayor Mussatto refuted Clark’s assertion that the decision was made “behind closed doors” by stating that the Museum and Archives requested themselves that the information in the BDO report not be released publicly. Finally he added, “I, like others want it to be a community museum, in that regard I’m not really keen on having an entrance fee.”
At one point in the discussion members of the gallery disrupted Council with comments of their own prompting Mayor Mussatto to briefly recess the meeting in order to call the public into order. Mussatto chastised a member of the gallery as “rude and childish” adding “we don’t need that in this gallery”. The motion was defeated four votes to three with Bell, Councillor Clark and Councillor Bookham supporting.
Later in the meeting, another of Bell’s motions (perhaps in anticipation of defeat of his first motion) was to consider other appropriate sites for a new museum that will be conveniently accessible to local residents and visitors by vehicle, public transit, SeaBus and walking. Councillor Keating reinforced Mussatto’s desire for a community museum as opposed to a tourist attraction. Councillor’s Keating and Buchanan shared the belief that the motion of three weeks ago (January 25) gives staff enough direction in looking for additional museum sites. This motion was also defeated by the exact same vote as the one earlier in the evening.
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