GRAVENHURST - Gravenhurst may follow Huntsville’s lead in the creation of a new town historical society.
Although just a concept right now, Municipal Heritage Committee chair Hank Smith said early discussions are underway about how to form one.
“We are thinking about doing what Huntsville did,” he said. “It’s early in the discussion and what we can’t get our fingers wrapped around right now is exactly how we will proceed.”
Late this past summer Huntsville formed an official historical society to help with preservation, documenting and celebrating that town’s past and it caught the Gravenhurst Municipal Historical Committee’s attention. Smith explained a municipality is legislated to have a historical committee, so if a society were formed, the committee would remain intact. The society would then enhance the local historical preservation projects by being able to generate its own funds and bank account and its own list of volunteers with a much broader membership base and leave the committee to its legislated tasks.
“Why we’re exploring a society is that it would be a body at arm’s length from the town; as a committee, you can’t be quite as political as a society and it would allow us to advocate for projects a little more,” he said. “A Gravenhurst Historical Society would support, encourage and do almost the same things as the committee, but it would be more citizen-driven.”
The committee’s projects are based on and limited by the municipal coffers, while the society could generate its own funds, give tax receipts for donations, and have a large membership. The committee is limited to those members appointed by council.
“We’re only contemplating it right now and working out how we will proceed,” Smith added. “I suspect before we do anything, we’ll want to have a public meeting and gauge interest, get ideas and so forth.”
If the decision is made to proceed, official incorporation could not happen without approval of the Ontario Historical Society.