Historical Society requests more funding

Mission's Historical Society is struggling after provincial cuts to the arts and other non-profits.

The Mission District Historical Society, which operates the archives, museum and other heritage places, has asked the district for $25,000 in the 2012 budget to cover provincial funding cuts.

The Society lost $11,000 this year in gaming grant funds, as the province made cutbacks to charities everywhere in the province. The Mission Folk Music Festival also lost $130,000 in provincial funding, which they are struggling to make up.

“We are digging into reserves which we still have in order to make up for the $11,000 deficit,” said Society director Joan MacLatchy in addressing council Monday evening.

MacLatchy said with the short museum hours and fixed costs of heating and electricity, the only area in which they can cut back is hours.

“If we cut staff, who are already part-time, we’re going to lose our professionals,” she said.

Staffers already work only 25 hours a week, and MacLatchey said any further cuts will force their workers to seek out other municipalities. She added that without knowing exactly what the funding issues are for smaller towns, a comparative study of hours shows that Mission has fewer open hours already.

“What message do we send to community leaders and volunteers if we don’t come through?” asked Coun. Paul Horn, adding if Mission expects people to come downtown, there have to be more reasons than just businesses.

Coun. Jenny Stevens said that while she values a balanced budget, a community is judged by how well it supports its volunteer and non-profit organizations, adding that every dollar put into such an organization usually generates $10 in community value.

Coun. Mike Scudder led a motion that staff look at finding a source for funding the $25,000 in the 2012 budget, which is still in the development stage.

Although only $11,000 of the $25,000 gaming grants funding was cut, the Society is seeking the full $25,000 from the district, citing the 2011 cuts as an example that it cannot depend on the province for any stable budgeting without being faced with a potential similar deficit.

According to municipal financial reports, the Historical Society receives $5,232 in annual tax exemptions.