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PRRD could pull plug on funding Tumbler Ridge Museum unless concerns are addressed

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TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – The Peace River Regional District could be pulling the plug on funding the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation unless the Foundation addresses the concerns of the PRRD’s Board of Directors.

At last week’s Regional Board meeting in Tomslake, Director Rob Fraser brought forward a motion that the PRRD send a letter to the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation Board and the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark Board asking for clarification regarding a meeting that the two Foundations held with several evaluators from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Fraser explained that he was asked to attend that meeting, which took place in Tumbler Ridge, as a representative of the PRRD.

He said that the UNESCO representatives were conducting an evaluation of the Geopark in Tumbler Ridge, which is necessary for the geopark to retain its UNESCO designation.

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The Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark is one of two geoparks in Canada with a UNESCO designation, with the other located in New Brunswick.

During the discussions, Fraser said that several things were said that caused him to become concerned, chief of which was that Dr. Lisa Buckley – the paleontologist who is responsible for the museum’s collection – had been exploring options to move some of the museum’s paleontological assets.

Dr. Buckley is said to have been exploring alternate locations to have the museum’s assets moved to in case the museum were to close its doors once again due to a lack of funding.

He said that in addition to the museum looking into relocating the fossil collection, the Museum Foundation also was said to have denied the UNESCO evaluators and Global Geopark Board members access to one of the Foundation’s digs.

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Fraser said that his understanding for the TRMF to deny the two parties access to the dig was because the request was made on short notice and to preserve the secrecy of the dig’s location if the Foundation were to lose its funding.

According to Fraser, the two UNESCO evaluators voiced concerns about the current state of the Museum, the continued operation of which is necessary for the Tumbler Ridge Geopark to keep its UNESCO designation.

Fraser said that after speaking about his concerns with fellow PRRD Directors Lori Ackerman and Don McPherson, he felt that the PRRD should do something to reduce the risk that the Geopark’s UNESCO be revoked.

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The video above is from the last PRRD Board meeting on July 26, 2018.

The Regional District Board voted unanimously in favour of sending a letter asking for clarification about the discussions; to immediately halt plans to move any of the museum’s paleontological assets unless they were part of the museum’s normal operating procedures; that the two Foundations work to establish better working relationships with the District of Tumbler Ridge and the Royal BC Museum; and that the PRRD will consider all items outlined in the letter as part of any subsequent funding request.

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