British Columbia

Royal B.C. Museum to archive 33,000 boxes of government records

The B.C. government has agreed to pay the Royal B.C. Museum for archiving and storing 33,000 boxes of public records that have been sitting in a warehouse for up to a decade.

Royal B.C. Museum will now be paid to archive the government records

Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk looks over historical aerial photographs of BC to be processed into the B.C. Archives by the Royal B.C. Museum. (Government of B.C./flickr)

The B.C. government has agreed to pay to the Royal B.C. Museum to properly archive 33,000 boxes of public records that have been sitting in a warehouse for up to a decade.

The move comes after B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham lambasted the government last summer for failing to properly take care of  "acres of archives."

The boxes began piling up 11 years ago after responsibility for maintaining the B.C. Archives transferred from within government to the Royal B.C. Museum in 2003.

But after the transfer the government then balked at paying the $454 per box the museum said was needed to process the records.

Instead the material, which includes court records, dissolved company files, improvement district case files, executive correspondence and records of commissions of inquiry have never been indexed and not in a searchable order.

That "severely-impaired" the public's right to know information that should be a matter of public record, according to Denham.

Now the government has agreed to pay the museum $400,000 a year to start catching up.

The government will also start paying the museum to store the material, starting with and up-front payment of $140 per box for storage of government records for the next 20 years.

"We know we have a very large task ahead of us," said the museum's chief operating officer Angela Williams, who plans to hire archivists to do the work.

But when its done, the public will finally be able to access the material and much of it will also be digitized and put online.


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