What to do about the museum's mine tour? The reccomendations are in

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
November 11th, 2010

At Monday night’s city council meeting, Museum Select Committee Chair Bill Profili, presented the committee’s final report stemming from the October 2009 incident at the mine (referred to in the report as an adit) involving three exchange students attending Rossland Secondary School. The report recommends that the City of Rossland assumes all accountability, authority, responsibility, and liability for the operation of the mine tour while creating a society separate from the Rossland Historical Museum and Archives Association to oversee the operation of the mine. 

After the RSS drama department’s presentation of its Fright Night event in the mine on October 28, 2009, three students were inadvertently locked in the mine for several hours – an incident that saw the eventual closing of the mine for the 2010 tourist season. Teck, who owns the mine itself and leases it to the City of Rossland (who then sub-leases it to the Rossland Museum and Archives Association) felt it necessary to close the mine in order to address safety issues. The Museum Select Committee was formed in July to make recommendations to Council about the future of the adit’s operation and management as a tourist attraction.

The report’s proposals specifically address theconcerns Teck brought to the City in the spring. The report makes ten recommendations in total, produced after the committee conducted a series of interviews and public meetings. All the recommendations are designed to maintain safety in the mine and improve communication between the museum, the City of Rossland, and the owner of the mine, Teck. It also suggests a restructuring of the museum and mine tour into two separate societies. A newly created Adit Society, with its own board of directors, would report directly to CAO of the City, and be would be responsible only for the operation of the mine.

The report clearly recommends that Teck’s role will be solely to own the mine and to participate in developing operating guidelines to their standards. Mr. Profili made it plain in a follow-up interview that Teck wants nothing to do with the mine other than owning the land it stands on, which places the City under some pressure to act on the committee’s recommendations soon.  

“If the city [doesn’t accept responsibility for the mine], Teck will close the mine. Teck is in the business of mining ore and metallurgy. They are not in the business of operating mines for tourism.”

The report suggests that the City proceeds with its policy recommendations “immediately and before April 30, 2010” – in other words, before the museum opens for the upcoming tourist season. As the Rossland Telegraph previously reported in the above-linked story, the mine tours bring in about 75 to 80% of the museum’s visitors and subsequent revenue.

The committee suggests that the funding for its recommendations come from the City’s discretionary spending. This includes the hiring and training of a “mine captain.” This person would be responsible for adit safety and the hiring and training of adit staff and tour guides. Mr. Profili suggested that the mine captain might be a current staffer or retiree that could be hired on a contract basis. 

The general consensus of the report was that the mine is not only an important asset to Rossland but also to the province of BC in general, and that there is strong support, not only from the community of Rossland, but also from the mining community at large.

Additionally, the Museum Select Committee made some observations about tourism in Rossland in general that it shared in its report. Among them is a need for the City to develop a tourism “master plan.” Also, the reports states that a “long term strategy should focus in creating [a] “welcome” regional centre at the intersection of the two main highways.” Mr. Profili noted during his presentation that he received public input that “the museum is looking tired. It needs some new enthusiasm…it needs to be revitalized. Essentially Rossland and Paterson are the gateway to the western end of the Columbia Basin, and if you go to Osoyoos and other places and look at their tourism Welcome Centres…And basically [our] museum has had to make do with the space available for its tourism centre.”

Other public input suggested that RV parking be provided by the City of Rossland.  “It continually came up,” Profili said with a chuckle, “so we thought we’d put that in there.”

The committee concluded its report, which was positively received by most of council, by sharing an artist’s rendering done by Dale Matthews of what a new museum and Welcome Centre might look like. “If we looked at this as a gateway, this is the sort of thing that would help out the museum and the community.”

Council voted in favour of receiving the report, and is now left with the decision of which (or all) of the recommendations to implement, and how it will go about the process of change up at the mine. With only two real options available – change or close – Mr. Profili sagely added, “If the city is going to assume all risk and liability, it would be silly not to set it up so we have the final say in what goes on there.”

What would you like to see done with the museum and mine tours?

To view the entire powerpoint presentation as presented by Mr. Profili, see attached file.

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