What happens when a museum closes?

Plus, changes to electoral boundaries on the Island

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When it comes to the local businesses that make up our community, we are (unfortunately) accustomed to hearing of restaurants and retail outlets closing up shop because operating costs are just too high.

But it doesn’t stop there. As with recent news of both the Bateman Gallery and Point Ellice House closing, we are also dealing with the shuttering of our local cultural institutions. Today, Michael John Lo explores what happens when our cultural institutions close their doors, and what’s needed to keep them going.

Cam Welch

📸 A Bateman Gallery staff member (second to left) speaks to a visitor (left) in the final minutes of the gallery's last publicly open day.

NEWS

What happens when Victoria’s cultural institutions close up shop?

On Feb. 18, a staff member at the Bateman Gallery brought a cake to work. It was the last day that the gallery would be open to the public, an abrupt closure announced just the day prior. With the gallery’s lease ending last month, its collection of Robert Bateman originals, prints, and other reproductions—which number in thousands—is now in storage.

Nearly all of the gallery’s former staff have had to look for new jobs, with the exception of the foundation’s executive director, who is now tasked with figuring out where the gallery’s Nature Sketch program and its collection will go, said David Schneider, chair of the Bateman Foundation. More than 500 people visited on the gallery’s last day.

“In a way, I think our organization was taken for granted,” Schneider said. Robert Bateman’s art, beliefs, and conservation efforts is “one of the most iconic brands in all of Canada,” he added. But the gallery’s greatest source of support—private donations—has largely come from outside of BC, with a significant number of donors in the US. Schneider cited the cost of rent, along with the cost of labour in an increasingly expensive city, as the primary reasons for the gallery’s closure.

“From a fiscal standpoint, [we] did not have those operating costs,” he said. “As you’re finding now, there’s a lot of pain out there.”

The soul of a community is in its cultural institutions, said Schneider. “We have to enhance them, embrace them, and let them flourish.”

Point Ellice House’s closure was announced on March 23. The non-profit Vancouver Island Local History Society, which took over the site’s operations in 2019, is returning the heritage site back to the BC government in May, four years into its five-year contract. Executive director Kelly Black said that it’s unlikely that the research and public history work done in the last four years will continue with a successor.

“The province is going to try and find somebody who will run the site for $111,000 a year, and they’re going to hope that they will increase the admission fees and increase weddings,” Black said. “Which, of course, isn’t something that would actually make up a $200,000 budget shortfall.”

Capital Bulletin

⛅ Today’s weather: A mix of sun and cloud with a 30% chance of showers and fog patches in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. High 12C / low 0.

🧑‍⚕️ Free prescription contraception is now available in BC.

📸 Current (grey), preliminary (lilac), and final proposal (dark purple) boundaries. Maps taken from BC Electoral Boundaries Committee.

NEWS

New local riding, and changes to current boundaries, recommended for next BC election

A new, more urban Westshore electoral district, Langford-Highlands, has been recommended in Monday’s final report of the BC Electoral Boundaries Committee. Along with four new districts in the Lower Mainland and one in Kelowna, it would bring BC’s total from 87 to 93.

The current Langford-Juan de Fuca district, held by John Horgan until last Friday and now due for byelection, was one of the most populous in BC with an estimated 70,000 people. This essentially made its residents’ votes less impactful than elsewhere in BC, although this was offset in recent years by its MLA being the premier. The new and more urban Westshore district would have 49,114 people (per 2021 census numbers), giving fast-growing Langford room to breathe.

Juan de Fuca would then join with Metchosin and some Malahat communities in a new, more rural western district, while Vic West would join up with Esquimalt and Colwood. On the peninsula, the boundary between Saanich districts will change.

More on all these changes, those elsewhere in BC, and what happens next, at Capital Daily.


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Capital Picks

🔄 Levidrome: Which two words spell each other backwards and are described by this clue: Better to have loved, right down. Answer on Facebook or Twitter and tag #levidrome and #capitaldaily. Last time: Geddy’s unagi = lee/eel

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🎙️ Matt Andersen at McPherson Playhouse: Canadian blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Matt Andersen will perform with his live band The Big Bottle of Joy on Tuesday night. [Tickets]

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In Other News

🚍Two new BC Transit appointments maintain CRD majority on board of directors
Sherri Dee Bell, former Camosun president, and David Cubberly, former municipal and provincial Saanich politician, are joining Victoria and Sooke mayors Marianne Alto and Maja Tait on the seven-person board. They replace longstanding provincial appointees Catherine Holt (previously with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce) and former Sooke mayor Wendal Milne, both on the board since 2017. Victoria Regional Transit is operated directly by BC Transit, while BC’s other regional bus systems typically involve partnerships between BC Transit, a municipality, and a contractor.

🚓 IIO investigating injuries to North Cowichan man in police custody
A man was hospitalized after “an interaction” with police while in RCMP cells in November 2021. He filed a formal complaint a year later, and RCMP passed that complaint to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) on Jan. 3, 2023. The IIO said Monday that it has confirmed the man sustained “serious harm,” triggering its automatic investigative process as the police watchdog. The IIO did not give details on the interaction or injuries.

🐕 BC law shift would treat pets more like family than property
Family Law Act amendments, newly introduced by the attorney general, direct judges to approach pet custody in divorces as a family issue (with factors such as ability to care, relationship to children, and risk of mistreatment) rather than a pure property dispute. [CBC]

ADVERTISER CONTENT

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MIKE GERIC CONSTRUCTION

Introducing The Rise on Fifth

The Rise on Fifth ocean view condos are now selling in Sidney. Learn more about this boutique collection of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom homes.

In Case You Missed It

🚌 Clean rural transit: Is BC prioritizing the rest of the Island enough in its clean transportation rollout? [Capital Daily]

⛴️ Possible BC Ferries fare hikes: The new preliminary recommendation has the annual cap set at 9.2% beginning in 2024, but that is certain to drop due to the influx of $500M in provincial money before the final decision in the fall. [Capital Daily]

🌏 Sing with us for change! Victoria's new multi-generational choir sings songs of hope and healing for our planet and its people. One Planet, One People Chorus | Tuesdays | 7pm | Pearkes Rec Centre*

⛷️ 🏂 Video captures Mt. Washington snowboarder’s rescue: The boarder and the New York skier, who found him stuck upside-down in deep powder and at risk of suffocating, have now become friends. [CBC]

*Sponsored Listing

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