Courtenay Museum Gets REDI

The Courtenay and District Museum takes a giant step forward this summer with assistance from Community Futures Strathcona and the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), as it embarks upon a project to enhance its position as British Columbia's premier marine fossil destination and invests in the Comox Valley's dinosaur-age fossil resources.

The project, Destination Courtenay Museum & Palaeontology Centre, engages exhibition designers, fabricators and production people to activate the cumulative research and interpretation accomplished to date by museum staff, board, volunteers, scientists and historians.

With support from Community Futures in the planning and development stages, REDI BC approved $147, 000 which the museum and donors will match. The museum will continue to work with Community Futures throughout the project.

Museum Executive Director, Deborah Griffiths says, "Earth scientists and amateur palaeontologists have made over 10 significant discoveries since the Puntledge elasmosaur was discovered in the late 1980s. Scientists from Canada, the U.S., Europe and Japan visit Courtenay to research and publish these discoveries, some of which are tylosaurus, the T-Rex of the sea and giant squid and exotic marine finds like the ratfish and vampire squid. "

Griffiths went on to say these discoveries create new opportunities for the museum to be relevant to a wider audience. "Natural history is a popular gateway for people to learn about the "sum" of local history, both natural and cultural, which has been the museum's mandate for over 50 years. In turn, increased visits support all areas of the museum."

Plans include installation of casts of late cretaceous marine animals from the museum's collection, upgrading all exhibition areas, expanding programming areas and marketing and branding.

The project is also designed to strengthen the museum's connection with other knowledge tourism destinations such as the Royal B.C. Museum, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and with Vancouver Island destinations, which feature current marine environments such as Ucluelet Aquarium, Quatse Stewardship Centre and the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove.