County of Wetaskiwin wants to discuss archives with city, town

Possible sale of Civic Building housing city archives discussed May 1

The County of Wetaskiwin wants to meet with their municipal counterparts to discuss the future of a local historical resource.

At their previous council meeting councilors read a letter from Alice Hoyle about the possible sale of the Civic Building in Wetaskiwin. The building houses, among other things, the City of Wetaskiwin archives and councilors asked CAO Rod Hawken to investigate the issue.

“At the Council General meeting held April 17th, 2018, Council discussed a letter received from Alice Hoyle, President of the Wetaskiwin Genealogical Society, a Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society requesting a letter of support be sent to the City of Wetaskiwin stressing the importance of maintaining the Wetaskiwin Archives in the former City Hall, currently referred to as the Civic Building,” stated the agenda item memo.

“At that time Council tabled responding to Mrs. Hoyle allowing Administration to obtain additional information.

“On April 20th, 2018 Administration met with Mrs. Hoyle and City of Wetaskiwin Archivist Rachel Knudsen and toured the Wetaskiwin Archive facility and discussed future needs for records retention.

“Some of the information gathered while on tour are: the Archives started in 1976 and in 2007 took over the lower level in the old city hall when the courthouse was renovated; the Archives has 100,000 indexed photos from the County/City and another 200,000 that are currently un-indexed; information, photos and data is donated from both individuals and local groups; the Archives has the entire Walin collection form 1919-1956, all Wetaskiwin Times photos/editions from the late 1950’s to late 1990’s, and the Wetaskiwin County School records from 1894 – 1990’s; the number of visitors annually to the Archives is approximately 300; the number of research requests in 2017 was 235; the annual budget for the city department is $85,000; the department currently has one fulltime staff and six volunteers; there are currently 47 Archives registered in Alberta.

“The Genealogical Society is a local group in which 70-75 per cent of it’s members are County residents.”

Hawken stated in his memo it doesn’t look like the building’s sale or archives’ move are imminent. “The Society and Archives have researched possible relocation to the local museums or library but have been advised they are all at capacity. Further, the CAO requested information about the future of the Archives with Cit CAO Dave Burgess and received the following: ‘Thanks for asking about this enquiry from the Society. There has not been any direction given or decided from Council regarding the archives. Several options are being explored, including staying as a tenant in the current location. Any decision would require a public process through Council. We have answered each and every individual enquiry we have received with the same response.’

“In discussions with the Town of Millet, there may be an option to relocate some of the information to the Millet Museum. However this option would require substantial research.”

Councilors briefly discussed the archives and decided that they would like to bring up the issue at a future joint committee meeting between the county, City of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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