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Letters: City's decision on cultural centre 'hasty'

Fort St John local Trinity Dirks says she practically grew up at the North Peace Cultural Centre.
culturalcentre
The North Peace Cultural Centre.

Dear Mayor Ackerman and City Councillors,

I was born and raised in Fort St John. I practically grew up in the North Peace Cultural Centre. In light of the recent announcement I thought it would be best to write in my concerns.

From the age of 5 I had been a part of Highland Dance, Choir, Musical Theatre (Central School, Dr Kearney, and High School), Dance through Studio 2 Stage, Band, and Stage North Theatre Society. While I wasn’t a part of every production I’m sure my older siblings were or my mom was helping behind the scenes and I was at the Cultural Centre more than at home. The NPCC has had such an influence in my life that I don’t know where I would be or who I would be without the work of the staff and society all these years. I hope, wish, and pray that my children can be immersed in the culture and theater the way I was.

The staff at the Cultural Centre were always friendly and ALWAYS looked out for me. I didn’t know much about the North Peace Cultural Society until I started working at the NPCC in 2015-2018. While working there I was able to understand the full effort that the society has done for our community and Centre. The Society has been working harder at their relationship with the City the past couple years and this is a complete shock to me that the City will be taking over the Cultural Centre. I know personally that the management of the Theatre has so much responsibility and knowledge that a city employee in September will not be able to keep up/ be able to manage the bookings.

My mother has been a part of both the FSJ Public Library board and the North Peace Cultural Society so I have a very good understanding about the way they have been treating each other for many years now. I don’t believe that the FSJ Public Library has it in their best interest for the Cultural Centre when they have a vendetta against the people who work at the centre. It seems as though people are not thinking clearly about their community and they are only thinking about their personal relationships. There is also a conflict of interest being that Andy Ackerman is a part of the Library Board and married to the Mayor of the City of Fort St John. It seems to me as though this played a deciding factor in the city's need for a closed meeting and haste decision.

I am deeply concerned that this decision was held during a closed meeting with no warning from you toward the Society. I am concerned that this hasty decision was not well throughout since it seems as though the Council and FSJ Public Library seemed to have been working together behind this town's backs. I am concerned that the City will not have the best interest for the potential user groups that will be booking rooms or the theatre.

Please know that I am worried about the arts and culture in Fort St. John. Please hear the voices of the people and take this and other letters into consideration when you think about the Cultural Centre. I believe the City needs to be transparent with their decisions and hold a public forum of some sort with stakeholders, user groups, and overall everyone who is concerned.

Please honour Sue Popesku, Tony Atkins and many others with the decision you have made.

Sincerely, Trinity Dirks

We’re interested in the community’s feedback on the cultural centre. Please send your letters and comments to reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca, they can be anonymous if you so choose.