The Parksville Museum was closed “indefinitely” and staff laid off Nov. 3. — Lauren Collins photo

Parksville Museum closes ‘indefinitely’

Funding shortfalls blamed for sudden staff layoffs

The Parksville and District Historical Society will host its annual general meeting this Saturday with a couple of burning issues to settle. Such as, when will the museum open again? And how will the society pay for its operation?

The society, which operates the Parksville Museum and archives, abruptly closed the facility on Nov. 3 and laid off its staff. The move followed an Oct. 24 meeting of the society’s executive.

“What we’ve done is we’ve basically reached a point in our budget where we can’t have staff at this point, while the museum is closed,” said David Haynes, current society board chair.

Haynes said decisions on the short- and long-term future of the museum will be made by the new board to be elected at Saturday’s 2 p.m. AGM in the museum’s Tryon Room.

“We want to have a fully operating museum; there’s no doubt about that,” said Haynes, who added that he will be stepping down as society president at the AGM.

The decision to close the museum and lay off staff met with strong disapproval from two members of the executive, Pippa Olivier and her daughter, Meryl Olivier, who did not attend the in camera meeting called at Serious Coffee in Parksville Oct. 24.

Haynes said he understood the two women were upset — “and justifiably so. We all are,” he added — but pointed out they did not show up at the meeting and hadn’t studied the budget as well as the attending members of the executive.

In an email, Pippa Olivier disputed the characterization that she chose not to attend the meeting, and said she was given conflicting descriptions of the gathering as either a budget meeting or a subcommittee meeting.

“I let him know I couldn’t attend due to work commitment,” Olivier wrote. “He knew that when he scheduled the meeting.”

Haynes said the motion to close the museum indefinitely came after the board members present reviewed a forensic budget audit indicating the museum was running a deficit roughly equal to the salaries paid to museum staff during last year’s “experimental” winter opening.

“Indefinitely is a deliberately chosen weasel-word,” Haynes said of the closure. “It could be three days, three months, three years. We don’t know. We have to restructure what’s going on with the museum. We couldn’t afford it.”

Saturday’s AGM at the museum is open to the public, and those interested in attending or signing up for membership are welcome to attend. The museum is at 1245 E. Island Hwy.

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