The Ucluelet and Area Historical Society may soon have a home for its history-preserving treasures and efforts.
During last week’s municipal council meeting in Ucluelet, council reviewed a letter from the society’s chair Barb Gudbranson asking about possible space for the society within the municipal office.
Gudbranson explained that the society had an office and storage closet in the municipal office up until a few years ago when renovations to the building in 2012 forced them out.
“At that time we were led to believe that an area in the basement, which was being vacated would probably have some room where we could not only store our materials, but also use as a meeting room and space for occasional projects,” Gudbranson wrote.
“Recently we have been advised that the basement is most likely being used strictly for District storage.”
Gudbranson suggested the society’s uncertainty about potential municipal space is stalling its efforts to find alternatives.
“We are currently facing a dilemma as to what to do for space to allow us to take inventory of our possessions, catalogue them, and make a more thorough inventory including scanning of the thousands of photographs,” she wrote. “Space is available around town but at a cost, and we have problems making any long-term lease arrangements not knowing if/when we might have access to other municipal facilities such as the (Amphitrite Point) light keepers house, which was promised to the UAHS many years ago.”
After reviewing the letter, Coun. Mayco Noel wondered how active council had been with the society over the past few years.
“For the society to actually have to come here tonight and write this letter I would suspect that there’s a little frustration on their level and, I think, we probably need to get some answers for them sooner than later,” he said.
“There’s probably room available and I think we just need to expedite that issue for them.”
Coun. Randy Oliwa said council had been working with the society to find a solution but nothing had become available.
“With all due respect, it’s been brought forward quite a few times to the district and, for whatever reason, it’s never really solidified,” Oliwa said.
“I’d like to express the fact that we do have a new council, new representatives that need to be brought up to speed on issues like this and we need to sit pretty quickly as a council and decide where our priorities and our focus are within our community so we can better aide societies like the Ucluelet and Area Historical Society.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques expressed disappointment in the society’s situation.
“It’s disappointing, I’m sure for everybody, that during the renovation understandably they needed to be relocated but we haven’t found a spot to relocate them to, it appears,” she said. She asked district staff whether there was room for the society in the municipal office’s basement.
Ucluelet’s CAO Andrew Yeates responded that there would be space for the society as soon as items belonging to the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce are moved out.
Yeates said he had walked through the basement with Gudbranson earlier that day and was confident a workable solution could be found.
St. Jacques put forward a motion, unanimously approved by council, to make room in the basement for the historical society “as close to March 1 as possible.”