R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum curator Deborah Chapman, board directors and advisors Bill Laird, Randy Brogden, Evelyn Dallow, Norma Harisch, general manager Susan Mackie, board members Gary Cruikshank, Doug Adams and Trudy Hall pose with a model of their latest project, Phase 2/3 of the Village Development Plan, the Children’s Discovery Centre and Museum and the new restaurant, the Sprig of Heather. (File photo)

Salmon Arm’s RJ Haney heritage park closed but not sitting idle

Projects and other work continues on village grounds, support would be appreciated

It may be closed due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean RJ Haney Heritage Village & Museum is sitting idle.

Salmon Arm’s premier heritage attraction has been gated since late March, after City of Salmon Arm-owned properties were closed at the direction of council in response to the virus.

While currently not open to the public, grounds keeping and assorted projects continue to be worked on at the 40-acre attraction, so that as health and safety restrictions are slowly lifted, the park will be ready for operation.

“We’re bringing back our core staff, those people that work for us every season, and we’re all doing our part to take care of the park right now so we’re cleaning, we’re getting the grounds ready, we’re finishing up any projects we had going on in the winter… we’re managing the park and the park is being worked so when we get the notice, hey open your gates, we’re going to be ready to go,” said Haney general manager Susan Mackie.

Among those projects is the renovation work being completed on the old museum, which has been transformed into the new Sprig of Heather restaurant,

“We’re down to the final touches, the cabinetry is going in, it’s beautiful,” said Mackie. “We were so excited to welcome everybody to this great venue for dinner theatre, and a great place to come up and have lunch and to enjoy for events. It’s just going to sit there and wait.”

Mackie said the park will be proceeding with the next phase of the Montebello Project, a children’s museum and discovery centre.

Unfortunately, even if the park reopens, it is uncertain at this time if and how annual summer events, including the popular Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre, would proceed.

Read more: PHOTOS: Shuswap pie baking contest draws hungry eyes at the Mall at Piccadilly

Read more: City of Salmon Arm, CSRD and school playgrounds closed

Read more: Children’s discovery centre, new restaurant planned for RJ Haney Heritage Village

“We can’t do it and be safe,” said Mackie, explaining the loss of this summer’s events would be difficult.

“We totally rely on our visitors that come through our gates during our season, selling our dinner theatre tickets, members of the community and tourists coming to our events, we rely on that revenue for sustainability, to make it year to year,” said Mackie, adding Haney has been pursuing any funding being made available to non-profits during this time of crisis.

Mackie said Heritage Week fundraising efforts in February provided a boost. But if people want to help now, she suggested they purchase an annual membership for $10, or even an annual season’s pass.

“Even if you don’t get to use it this year, that money will go to help us keep things running up here through this season even if… we don’t get to open the gates,” said Mackie.

“We’re not sitting idle – we’re moving forward. If the community wants to help us out by giving us a donation so we make sure these projects keep moving forward in a timely fashion, we’d appreciate that t0o.”

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