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Museum's future goes to vote

Society brass says outcome not binding

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Historical society members are to cast ballots Saturday on the future of Dalnavert Museum.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Historical society members are to cast ballots Saturday on the future of Dalnavert Museum. Photo Store

The Manitoba Historical Society's plans for Dalnavert Museum go before a vote of society members on Saturday.

One proposal would have the society partner with Candace House to turn the national heritage site into a social-advocacy site for victims of crime.

Another, backed by museum and heritage organizations, would see Dalnavert retain its function as a museum.

The society's website says members who pay annual fees of $45 will get a vote between the two options.

Last month, the society's executive council announced a partnership with Candace House, suggesting the new role was a done deal.

Candace House is the dream of Wilma Derksen, whose daughter, Candace, was murdered in 1984. It would serve as an oasis for crime victims -- a location near the Law Courts for them to rest during court trials.

While the society's executive council still backs the deal it announced April 15 with Candace House, there are others who want to put the issue before the membership as a whole.

Society chairman James Kostuchuk said Thursday he's aware of the meeting, but he also distanced himself and the executive from it.

He said it was called by a quorum of members, and the executive had nothing to do with it.

Moreover, Kostuchuk minimized the power of any vote taken at the meeting. As far as he's concerned, it's simply informational.

"The members can hold a vote to allow their views to be known to the council. The vote is non-binding but could influence council decisions," Kostuchuk said at the end of a series of email exchanges Thursday.

Not everyone agrees.

A group called Friends of Dalnavert, made up of museum and heritage groups, some of the society's past presidents and former volunteers, has quietly lobbied behind the scenes for months.

The outcome is the meeting called for Saturday.

The society posted a notice that says the vote may count, according to its own constitution.

"It has been determined that further discussions with MHS members will be desirable. Consequently, the society will hold a special general meeting to discuss the future of Dalnavert," the website states.

"Representatives of Candace House and the Friends of Dalnavert will attend the special general meeting to provide information about their proposals and answer questions. Following discussion, those present who are paid-up members of the Manitoba Historical Society will be asked to vote on a motion to choose between the alternatives," the website says.

Dalnavert is the former home of Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald. Hugh John was a Manitoba premier and judge.

The meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Dalnavert Visitors Centre, 61 Carlton St.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2014 A6

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