25 February 2015

New Brunswick Museum expansion plans still not finalized

The museum held public information sessions Tuesday to update residents on the plan

CBC News

As the New Brunswick Museum tries to finalize plans to expand its collections centre, there has been some backlash from those opposed to them possibly expanding into a nearby war memorial park.

The museum held public information sessions on Tuesday to update residents on the plan and answer questions.

Jane Fullerton, the museum's chief executive officer, presented the updated design plans, which would see the collections centre expand into part of Riverview Memorial Park.

The museum is looking at several different options for their $40-million expansion, but Fullerton said she believes this plan is the best one.

"From the information that we have, it's the best option that allows the museum to function as effectively as possible and it's also the most cost effective option at that site. And that's what we really focused on," she said.

Riverview Park was created as a memorial for those who fought in the Boer War.

The idea of building on it has been unsettling for some residents, such as veteran John Campbell.

He said after learning details about the plan, he has changed his mind.

"Hopefully, because of this and the move the museum does, it will bring more attention to our Boer War veterans, in particular that monument, throughout the year and for decades to come," he said.

Melanie Colpitts said she also sees the benefits of the expansion.

"I think the opportunity is to really engage and get people excited again about that park, which really has low visitation at the moment," she said.

"Linking it between the New Brunswick Museum, the Harbour Passage, Falls View Park, the opportunities for tourism are really significant."

The collections centre houses hundreds of millions of dollars worth of artifacts, but it was built in the 1930s and has been deemed unsafe.

Every item has to be transferred to the expansion by 2017, so repairs can be done to the original building.

"If we want to do it that way, we need to start a year from now. Otherwise we'll be leaving that building and the question will be what will happen next to that building and the museum," Fullerton said.

The museum is still waiting on approval from the city of Saint John to test the soil at proposed locations as the clock ticks closer to 2017.