B.C.'s largest dinosaur museum reopens for summer, but long-term future remains uncertain
Tumbler Ridge dinosaur closed in March because of lack of funding
British Columbia's largest dinosaur museum has raised enough money to reopen for the summer season after funding shortages forced its closure in March 2018, but it's still searching for a permanent funding solution.
The Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation's fundraising efforts reached its goal of $150,000, including $50,000 from the District of Tumbler Ridge for the 2018 season.
The Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre and Dinosaur Discovery Gallery will reopen on June 14.
The museum's collection includes the only known Tyrannosaur trackway in the world and the most complete skeleton ever found in the province.
The foundation's vice president hopes to convince the provincial government that these paleontological artifacts are important enough to protect with long-term, stable funding.
"Our resources, our fossils and our trackways and all of the paleontological treasures that we've unearthed here along this area belong to the province of British Columbia," said foundation vice president Jerrilyn Schembri.
"I'm not sure why the province hasn't jumped on board."
B.C. Liberal MLA Mike Bernier, who represents Tumbler Ridge, has been advocating for the province to fund the museum and its collection of bones and fossils, which is the largest in B.C.
"I believe that it's time the province steps in and helps, instead of the local government having all the burden," Bernier told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk last spring.
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Redundant funding concerns
In March, the foundation announced it had handed out five layoff notices to staff after the Tumbler Ridge district council voted against a $200,000 funding request.
That decision came after concerns were raised over funding redundancies.
In 2014, the entire community of Tumbler Ridge was declared a UNESCO global geopark, highlighting the international significance of the prehistoric evidence found there.
However, the declaration sparked concern within the regional district about funding both the geopark and museum foundation.
The society and museum were created following the discovery of dinosaur tracks in a local creek in 2000.
Since then, paleontologists and amateur fossil hunters have found hundreds of bones and footprints belonging to dinosaurs that once roamed what is now British Columbia.