Sechelt council’s committee of the whole is recommending $1,350 be set aside in the 2020 budget for the first step toward finding a new home for the Sechelt Community Archives.
The archives have grown from the donation of the Helen Dawe Collection – which included her photographs as well as documents, maps, newspapers, artifacts, and other items of historical significance – to a much larger collection. They are stored in a small room in the Sechelt Public Library under an agreement between the library, the district, which owns the material, and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), which funds the salary of a part-time archivist.
In an Oct. 29 letter to Sechelt council and the SCRD board, the board of the Sechelt library said it now needs the room to provide space for a new employee and requested “all material that exceeds safe storage criteria, approximately one-third of the documents, be removed from the small room in the library as soon as possible and no later than Nov. 30.”
The letter also pointed out the way the archives are currently stored does not meet health and safety guidelines, and “material from all of the top shelves will need to be vacated from the premises and a standing shelf will need to be bolted to the wall in order to safely house both the Sechelt library staff member as well as the archivist.”
The library board also said in the long term the space will all be needed to accommodate staff, and the entire archive will have to be relocated by the end of March 2020.
The $1,350 endorsed by the committee would cover the cost of moving some, or all, of the archive collection to a temporary storage location.
Arts, culture and communications coordinator Siobhan Smith told the Nov. 13 meeting of the committee that one possible short-term solution is moving part of the collection to the newly renovated lower floor of Rockwood Lodge.
“The temporary storage available to us at this time in buildings that we own would really only be suitable for a very temporary move,” she said. “If we are moving the collection multiple times that would increase the cost.”
Smith also asked the committee to endorse making finding a new permanent home for the archives a priority and allow staff to “enter into discussions with landlords who have vacant storefront space in Sechelt that could be used to house the archives as a medium-term solution.”
Smith said the long-term solutions could include co-locating the archives with a local educational or cultural institution, which she said in her report could “ensure maximum benefit to the community and sustainability of the collection.”
Coun. Tom Lamb, the committee chair, offered an outside-the-box idea involving another important historical asset.
“The Lady Rose has arrived in Sechelt and it might be an idea to get in touch with [the owners] and see what their plans are,” Lamb said. “I’m sure putting our archives in a boat on the ocean probably isn’t the best place to put them, but if it does become a land-based museum there might be potential there.”