Wrong tree

Town council is in a tough bind these days as its wrestles with its 2009 budget and, as such, it’s understandable no stone is being left unturned in efforts to save money.
A suggestion to cut back staffing hours at the Fort Frances Museum, however, appears to be a case of barking up the wrong tree.
At a time when the forest industry is on life support, it’s imperative that the town focus its attention on attracting tourists to inject much-needed dollars into our community. Certainly one way to do that is to have a vibrant museum which entices visitors—and their wallets—to stop here rather than simply pass through.
The last thing we need is a museum that’s open fewer hours or offers fewer services, which is sure to occur if staffing hours are reduced.
The move makes equally less sense given we’ve just sunk $1 million into renovations at the museum, and the fact that Phase II of the town’s ambitious Heritage Tourism Project hinges on the Scott Street site.
As well, any money saved by trimming staff hours likely would be offset by grants the town would lose if the museum no longer meets required standards.
Let’s also not forget the value of the museum goes far beyond a tourist attraction. It’s where our past is preserved—where residents, particularly our youth, can go to remember their roots, salute our pioneers, and learn how the community has evolved over the decades.
It is a source of education—and pride—we must not allow to slip away.
Cutting back staff hours at the museum may save some money in the short-term. But it’s really only a drop in the bucket in the town’s overall budget, and especially since the long-term cost is far greater.