First steps being taken to salvage Tumbler Ridge dinosaur museum

4/12/2018

The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation and Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark Society have signed a new memorandum of understanding.

This means both parties have agreed to work together and support each other.

The two organizations have been working together since the inception of the TRGGS and this new agreement will replace an older agreement which was signed by the TRMF and the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark Steering Committee.

The statement says the agreement will further benefit the community of Tumbler Ridge, the Peace Region and British Columbia.

The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, The Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre and Dinosaur Discovery Gallery idled in March due to a lack of funding from council.

The museum opened its doors to another era 15-years ago thanks to volunteers but now according to council.

The district denied funding of $200,000 during a March council meeting.

 According to district staff, they requested more information from the museum foundation, but say they didn't receive a reply.

Council says the facility is costing tax payers $350 per person.

In a letter obtained by CJDC dated in July, 2017, Mayor Don McPherson says he had concerns about the home of prehistoric fossils and structures because the foundation withdrew scientific support from the Geopark and that until certain conditions were met, they would not receive any money.

"It states that we have some concerns with the way things are operated. I guess the major thing was that they pulled scientific support from our Geopark which is a big part of our tourism efforts," says McPherson.

Museum staff say they have complied with everything asked of them.

"I think anything like that is open to interpretation and I think in the museum's mind we have attempted to respond to all of their questions," says Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation Vice-President Jerrilyn Schembri.

McPherson says the museum hasn't focused on tourism in their business model and adds council has supplied more than $2.3 million to the facility.

It is currently not known if the staple of Tumbler Ridge will open again. The board is trying to dig up alternative funding through grants and corporate donations.

Both museum staff and McPherson are remaining optimistic that tourists will be able to walk alongside these ancient animals' bones again in the future.

The MOU is a result of the request from mayor and council. They say a document must be created first before they reconsider the 2018 grant-in-aid application.