Valley a hotbed of marine fossils

Courtenay Museum working to make area a destination for visitors

The Courtenay Museum has been busy promoting the Comox Valley as a destination for marine fossils, Courtenay council heard last week.

The museum’s Deborah Griffiths updated council on museum projects and initiatives, noting it’s been a busy year, thanks to funds from the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

“We’ve been able to really push the idea of being a destination in the Comox Valley,” said Griffiths, adding the museum is working to position the Valley as B.C.’s premier marine fossil destination — which it is. “There is a land animal dinosaur museum in Tumbler Ridge but the Courtenay Museum is the only museum that has active programming around marine palaeontology in the province.

“This project really was geared to position us to take another step and to really reap benefit for the community and to bring people in from all over the world.”

She noted the museum’s budget is usually around $350,000 but thanks to the $147,000 from REDI, the budget is over $517,000, including $160,000 from the City of Courtenay. She added the City contributes 31 per cent of the museum’s revenue and the museum itself generates 57 per cent through things like programs, the gift shop, renting out the Capes Escape vacation home and rooms in museum for various functions and memberships.

Coun. Jon Ambler, who is volunteer co-ordinator and program manager at the Comox Airforce Museum, said he can see the funds from the City are well spent.

“When we talk about the support from the City of Courtenay, it’s a big number, but I mean, if we’re going to have a city, it has to have a theatre, it has to have sports and recreation, it has to have an art gallery and it has to have museums,” said Ambler, telling Griffiths to keep up the good work. “It’s an essential part of our culture.”

Griffiths also said the museum has been busy creating videos, working on its branding and updating its website, among other things.

She noted it has about 60,000 items in its archives, and museum attendance has been about 20,000, with a further 13,000 hits on its website.

While she said the museum is well-known for the Elasmosaur, an ancient marine reptile found in the Valley, other important finds have been made here too.

“We have all these huge animals that have been discovered and we haven’t been able to display them, so a lot of the work this past year has been around casting some of the animals and bringing them into the museum,” she said.

For more information on the museum and to see the videos, visit www.courtenaymuseum.ca.

 

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