Princeton B.C. museum worried about town's 'hostile takeover'

There is a battle brewing in the Similkameen town of Princeton, B.C. over who owns and operates the local museum.

Town of Princeton say it owns the museum and is taking over from the society that has run it for 6 decades

The Princeton Museum was founded in the 1950s and contains everything from prehistoric fossils to exhibits about early pioneers. (Princeton and District Museum and Archives Sociiety)

There is a battle brewing in the Similkameen town of Princeton, B.C. over who owns and operates the local museum.

The Princeton museum was founded in the 1950s, and has a vast collection including prehistoric fossils, exhibits and photographs of early pioneers as well as First Nations' artifacts.

The museum is run by the Princeton and District Museum and Archives Society.

The town of Princeton owns the museum building and grants funds to run it, including paying the salary of the museum manager among other things.

In February, Princeton Mayor Frank Armitage and Rick Zerr, the town's chief executive officer, told the society it was taking over museum operations, according to society president Rika Ruebsaat.

This month Ruebsaat wrote a letter, circulated to local and social media, stating her opposition to the move, calling it a 'hostile takeover.'

"We could just cave and say you guys take over — you've got us over a barrel. Or we can fight them on it. And that is the path that I have chosen to take," she told CBC News.

Many locals have contacted Ruebsaat offering their support, she said.

"People are saying 'why is the town doing this? 'What is wrong? The museum is doing fine. The artifacts in the museum were donated in good faith to the society. What is going on? We totally support you,'" said Ruebsaat. "It's been very heartening actually." 

Town 'already owns the museum'

The town disputes Ruebsaat's claim. According to CAO Rick Zerr the town isn't trying to take over the museum, because it already owns it.

"(The society) suggested we work with their representative on a transition plan to operate the museum in future and fully fund it," Zerr said. "So we have been doing that and that's the stage we are at. We are working with their representative on the process." 

Zerr said he doesn't know why Ruebsaat is now objecting to the take over.

Talk of the town taking over the museum's archives has upset some people in the area, including Ninka Klaver who is considering taking back a 50-million-year-old fossil she donated to the museum society.

"We donated it to the museum society," Klaver said. "We did not donate it to the town."

The museum society will discuss the situation with its members at its annual general meeting on Thursday.



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