11 December 2015

New Brunswick Museum may relocate if new plan isn't found

Museum vice-chair Louise Imbeault says governments must ante up funds to build a new $45M facility

CBC News

The New Brunswick Museum could be moving out of Saint John unless the community can get behind a plan to build a new facility in the city.

Museum officials held a public meeting on Thursday to outline options for building a new facility.

They say one of the only remaining options is to demolish the collections and research building on Douglas Avenue in Saint John and rebuild it on that site, at a cost of roughly $45 million.

If that doesn't happen, the museum may have to relocate to another community.

Louise Imbeault, the museum's vice-chair, said the board supports a plan that includes the Douglas Avenue site but it can only go forward with support from all three levels of government.

"Whatever we do we will have to build something that will house the museum in a decent fashion, with decent standards. So we will have to have help," she said.

"Because the museum per se, we will be able to raise some money, but the rest of the money will have to come from the city, from the province, from the federal government. $40 to $45 million is a lot of money to find."

Jane Fullerton, the chief executive officer of the museum, told the meeting that Saint John residents need to get involved by being vocal and active in their support for the museum.

Imbeault said the new museum will cost a lot of money but she said it is important to recognizes the province's history.

"You know people in whatever government spend a lot of money patching potholes that will come back next year and the year after that," she said.

"But a museum is a strong legacy and that is infrastructure we will need in the future."

The museum has been planning an expansion and upgrade for the Douglas Avenue facility in Saint John since 2000.

But the museum's chief executive officer said earlier this year the issue became an urgent matter in 2012 when engineers determined the roof structure only had another five years of life.

The museum had originally wanted to expand its Douglas Avenue facility into the neighbouring Riverview Memorial Park, a memorial to soldiers who served in the Boer War, but the museum's board of directors has decided to focus on other options.

In March, Fullerton said she hoped to have a plan in place within the next month so the museum can apply for federal funding.