As the new library/museum structure goes up, the City of Trail is doing a re-structure of its own.
A new municipal role has been created so when the Riverfront Centre doors open next year, one person will manage the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and the city’s historical collections.
For many years, visitor services fell to the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce. But integration of the library and museum under one roof presented the opportunity for the city to combine those services with a tourism feature.
“The Visitor Information Centre will be open the same hours as the library and we are working with the library board to finalize those as part of an overall operational plan,” Mayor Mike Martin told the Trail Times. “The VIC will be fully integrated into the operational plan for the Riverfront Centre with the management of the VIC becoming a city responsibility.”
Another shift of responsibility will happen Sept. 1, when the city takes a managerial role off the hands of the Trail Historical Society (THS), with a municipal director position for Sarah Benson. Benson is a wealth of knowledge about city history having filled the same role through the society for the past 10-plus years.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the City of Trail team,” said Benson in a Wednesday release. “Having been a part of this environment for 13 years with the Trail Historical Society, I feel it will be a natural transition. I am also so appreciative to this city council, who is committing long-term to the preservation of culture and heritage in Trail and providing such a unique and creative space to deliver these services.”
The multi-use Riverfront Centre should become a real hub for tourists who may stop in the downtown, said Martin.
“There will be no admission fee charged to tour the historical exhibits and the Museum and Archives manager will be looking at ongoing opportunities to bring in traveling exhibits so there will always be a reason to come down to the centre.”
The ownership of the collections (museum artifacts and materials) will remain with the society and its volunteers will continue to serve an integral role as advisers exhibits, programming and collection enhancements at the museum. The group will also help with fundraising initiatives and grant applications that aim to strengthen the cultural fabric of Trail.
The Trail Historical Society and the city have entered into a memorandum of understanding that deals with the operational responsibility of the museum and archives, Martin clarified.
“There will be other part-time and seasonal positions created as part of running the museum, archives and VIC,” he noted. “In addition, the library staff will also be utilized so there is a fully integrated and seamless service delivery model.”
Since 1977, the historical society has been active in journal, history book and documentary production, website management and heritage material interpretation.
The volunteers’ continued involvement and advisement will be vital to the success of the museum and archives as the new operational structure will allow them to focus enhancing the profile and visitor engagement of the new facility.
“Trail council recognizes and appreciates the THS’ many years of hard work and dedication to showcasing Trail’s history.”
The agreement is a welcome change for both entities.
“This new arrangement allows the Trail Historical Society members to participate in a more meaningful and engaging way in the museum,” said Lorna Nutini, chair of the THS. “It puts less onus on a volunteer board to manage a substantially larger, more professional environment. Also, it shows the city is committing to providing the community with a new cultural service.”
The inclusion of the VIC at the Riverfront Centre is very complementary to the function of the facility and having the presence of both the museum and library will be an added attraction for visitors, Martin said.
“The Riverfront Centre provides a significant opportunity to offer these related services all under one roof, creating further gains from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective … Access to the VIC will be much improved and its location will drive people into the downtown.”
He said the city will be working on improving parking as part of ensuring it is easier for recreational vehicles to stop. Another factor needing attention is signage, so newcomers can easily find the new space and highlights Trail has to offer.
“The city is currently looking at a directional signage plan to ensure that visitors are aware of not only the Riverfront Centre (including the VIC) but the Columbia River Skywalk and we are also going to see if we can integrate this with potential opportunities for businesses as well,” Martin explained. “This decision was only made as part of the development of the integration plan that was prepared by an external consultant and council considered a number of options before landing on this approach. Again, we really hope to leverage the investment being made and to greatly improve services as a result.”
More information about these services will be available on the Trail Riverfront Centre’s website, scheduled to launch for the opening of the facility in early 2018.
“This is a very exciting time for the city,” Martin concluded. “This investment, which is being complemented by ongoing private investment in the downtown, is really very positive. There are more new businesses opening and we also look forward to seeing the boutique hotel open up within the next few years … The city is also taking possession of the Union Hotel and Council will be looking at a plan to redevelop this area as soon as practical.”