The future of the Maritime Museum is in question after the province announced that negotiations between the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority are at an impasse Friday.
“We’re all extremely disappointed,” said Clay Evans, chair of the Maritime Museum of B.C. Society Board
“We’re going to have an emergency board meeting to discuss our future and where the Maritime Museum of B.C. will be going forward.”
After nine months of negotiations between Shared Services B.C. and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to secure a lease for the Maritime Museum at the old steamship terminal, the province said it is unable to provide on-going financial support or funding capital improvements at the terminal.
Ian Robertson, CEO of the harbour authority, expressed his disappointment that they weren’t able to reach an agreement as well, but said they must move on.
“We were hopeful that the government might be able to find a solution, obviously that’s not happened so now we need to move on to find a suitable tenant or tenants for the steamship building,” he said.
“[The maritime museum] is important in preserving and promoting our maritime heritage and we look at them as partners in the harbour and will continue to support them in their efforts.”
The ministry has also asked the museum to leave their current location at 28 Bastion Square by Sept. 30 “to avoid risk to staff and to assess the state of the building,” according to a press release.
Currently, most of the collection is at Bastion Square, while the rest is being stored in a facility on Seymour Street.
Evans said they’ve kept their eyes open for other sites the museum could go, but in the meantime, he hopes to establish a small 3,000-square foot board office in the downtown core.
“At least we have a presence and a place where people can come and do a bit of research,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a full museum, it would be more of a society office, but at least people can go and we won’t be behind locked doors.”
The harbour authority, the primary tenant of the building on Belleville Street, originally signed a six-month contract with the maritime museum to occupy the space last year. But since the contract expired on Feb. 28, negotiations were stalled between the authority, the museum and Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
The emergency board meeting will take place Monday night.