Discovering Trail’s history with a visit to the museum will be free of charge this summer, an attempt to prove to voters the value a new facility could bring to the city’s collection.
Artifacts like a beautiful handmade wine press and a replica S.S. Trail sternwheeler, an example of early transportation along the waterways of the Kootenays, are just a few of the artifacts found at the facility located inside the Trail Memorial Centre.
“We feel that if more residents visited our current museum, they will better understand the need for a new facility when going to the polls in November,” explained Trail Historical Society president Jamie Forbes in a news release.
November’s municipal election will include a borrowing bylaw referendum that will ask residents to support the borrowing of up to nearly $6.3 million to construct a new, integrated museum and library facility on the former Eagles’ lot at the corner of Bay Avenue and Helena Street.
Based on an average $181,200 property assessment, this would result in an $81 increase to annual taxes. But as more funding is acquired from grants and sponsorships, annual property taxes will be reduced by $11 annually for every $1 million raised for the facility.
The museum moved from City Hall to this space in the Trail Memorial Centre in 1989 while the archives and the historical society remain in City Hall. It’s hoped that the new venue would provide more space for the city’s history as well as a visible location that would catch more attention from the traveling public.
Beyond the museum closing last year during most of August in result of construction along Victoria Street, visits remained consistent, according to Sarah Benson, director of Trail Museums and Archives. She notes numbers were up in June and July, mostly due to an increase in school visits.
“We had a total of 223 visitors last year, which is slightly higher than the previous five years,” she said. “We can attribute that to several things, however residents of Trail tend to spend a significant amount of the summer away from here.”
Staffing costs to run the museum that currently opens during the summer are covered through the federal Canada Summer Jobs program. Museum admission has never played a major role in the annual operating budget, said Benson, therefore offering free admission seemed a reasonable and appropriate option for the board.
Members of the Trail Historical Society board will be on hand at the Trail Market on the Esplanade throughout the season, starting June 6, to answer questions and provide further information on the proposed facility.
Access to the Trail Museum is along Victoria Street to the right of the memorial centre’s main entrance. The museum opens Monday through to the end of August from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.