There have been several letters advanced with respect to the Trail Riverfront Centre and the new integrated operating model that will be employed within the new facility. Trail City Council is concerned with what appears to be some misrepresentation and possible confusion regarding actions that have been taken in the interest of ensuring that the services to be provided through the Riverfront Centre are delivered efficiently and cost effectively.
As far as the Library is concerned and as previously indicated, council met with the Minister of Education during the UBCM in September to discuss various issues and concerns that have come to the forefront during the planning and development for the Riverfront Centre.
It was inaccurately suggested that council approached the Minister to seek ways to dissolve the Library Board.
This is simply not true.
The city met with the Minister regarding concerns and issues associated with ongoing sustainability and funding of library services. These issues have been tabled with the ministry over many years and council wanted to ensure that the new government was also aware of the many challenges that smaller libraries face. This was not meant to be a threat to the Library Board. Council is seeking ways to support the current structure and continued its lobbying for a review of provincially mandated programs in the context of purpose, utilization and funding.
The Trail Historical Society operating model was changed after an extensive review of possible options as part of its operational integration into the Riverfront Centre.
The city advanced a new approach to deliver the Trail Historical Society’s service that has been successfully employed in another Lower Mainland community. This approach relieves the society of the significant administrative burdens associated with operations so they are better able to focus on supporting the new facility and the greatly enhanced historical services that will be provided.
There was consultation with the society directly and the final decision was not at all “unilateral” as stated. Notwithstanding comments made, the Trail Historical Society voted in favour of proceeding with the new operating model and as a result, the city and Trail Historical Society have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both parties.
City council looks forward to working cooperatively with the society under the leadership of the Museum and Archives Manager, who is now a city employee. The Archives Manager will fully support the goals and objectives of the Trail Historical Society as part of providing an important interface between the city and Trail Historical Society.
The Trail Historical Society retains full ownership of the collections and acts as stewards of the museum artifacts and materials thereby assisting the City of Trail in determining the most effective methods and highest priorities for exhibiting, programming and providing public access to the collections. The continued involvement and advisement of the society volunteers will be vital to the success of the museum and archives as they focus on enhancing the profile and visitor engagement of the new facility.
Finally, with respect to the budget review and approval process being undertaken for the entire facility, council is not trying to “impose its will” but is exercising its due diligence in looking to fully understand the funding requirements as part of considering a reasonable level of service. In this respect, council is responsible and accountable to the taxpayers for the city’s Financial Plan and the associated level of property taxation. A level of balance must be achieved when considering the numerous other services the city provides. Council would not be doing its job if budgets were arbitrarily approved without undertaking a robust review to ensure that the final approved budgets are consistent with an articulated operating plan and are respectful of the taxpayer who will be directly impacted.
Council believes its actions have been unfairly characterized by suggesting that it was taking an adversarial approach in the planning and development of the Riverfront Centre. This could not be further from the truth as council worked collectively with all stakeholders throughout the process. The planning and development of the Riverfront Centre has involved a collective effort from all the stakeholders.
When preparing for a new and considerably expanded facility, the status quo quite simply is not an option. With progress change is inevitable and necessary and it is understandable that this comes with uncertainty for those involved. Through careful and thoughtful planning those uncertainties are mitigated as we bring into operation a significantly more complex facility with fully integrated services of the library, Trail Historical Society and the Visitor Information Centre.
In order to deliver a wonderful addition to our community by way of the Trail Riverfront Centre, city council has worked very hard with all the stakeholders including two significant groups of volunteers whose contributions are valued and appreciated.
We look forward to the day in early 2018 when the Trail Riverfront Centre will be opened to the public. We are confident that all the hard work by many over the last few years will result in a facility and service that the public will fully embrace and appreciate. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Mike Martin is the Mayor of the City of Trail