Debate over an old gas pump is at the core of an ongoing dispute between the Summerland Museum’s board of directors and a community group interested in Summerland’s heritage.
The dispute has been going on for close to a year.
The gas pump, which had been in Lowertown, was donated to the museum in the 1990s.
Sandra Nicolson, chair of the museum’s board of directors, said the pump is not in good condition and is in need of repair work.
In addition, she said the pump is like many other gas pumps which were in use throughout the Okanagan Valley and elsewhere during that period.
However, others believe the pump has a connection to Summerland’s history.
Dorothy Inglis, who served on the museum board in 2016, said the pump dates from the 1920s and had probably been used at a gas station on Lakeshore Drive.
The exact location is not known.
She estimates the cost of restoring the old pump is between $1,000 and $2,000, unless someone would step forward to donate the labour.
However, her bigger concern is about how the issues with the pump have been handled. She said decisions about the pump were not made through the proper process.
“It’s the lack of transparency surrounding everything,” she said, adding that the deaccessioning of the pump violates the museum’s protocols.
She and other members of a citizens’ group, Return to Grace, have hired a law firm to send a letter to the B.C. Registrar, under the Societies Act, listing their concerns with the museum.
Nicolson said the museum has arranged to have the pump restored. Once the restoration is completed, it will be on display in Summerland.
She added that the pump and other items in the museum’s possession represent a challenge for the museum board and staff.
She said not all old items have a strong heritage value. Some, including some old typewriters and old hurricane lamps, were simply commonplace items of the time.
Nicolson said the museum’s purpose is to be a source of knowledge about Summerland’s past.
“Museums are for learning,” she said. “They are an extension of our educational program.”
Because of the limited space in the museum building, some artifacts are being stored in the basement of the RCMP detachment building, since there is not room to display all artifacts.
In addition, some of the items in the museum’s possession do not have the proper documentation.
“Some of the things in the RCMP basement have no gift agreement,” Nicolson said.
But Inglis said the concerns are now more far-reaching than the pump.
“While the pump started out being the issue, it quickly became the catalyst,” she said. “And it isn’t going to go away until resolved.”
Nicolson would like a full-time archivist and a grant for an interim archivist to handle the backlog of artifacts in the museum’s possession.