New “willingness” for town and Discovery to work together

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There is a “willingness” for the Town of Petrolia and the Petrolia Discovery Foundation to work together.

That from Mayor John McCharles after several meetings between the foundation and town officials over the last few weeks.

The town had been having trouble connecting with the volunteer board which runs the historic site, trying for months to arrange a meeting to talk about what Petrolia could do to help. As a meeting was finally arranged, the site’s general manager died after a battle with cancer and the foundation’s chair, Joel Campbell resigned.

But Dawn Sperling stepped in and the meeting with the town went ahead. She called it productive. Monday night, McCharles told councillors there have been several meetings over the past few weeks. “Discovery agreed to work with the town and the town agreed to work with Discovery,” he says adding he is “delighted” to see the relationship move forward.

“We’d like to help and there certainly is a willingness to work with us.” McCharles says the discussions have been “very preliminary” adding a report will likely come to the next council meeting

In the past, the town had suggested its workers could help with things such as maintenance of the grounds and marketing the site to tourists.

And the board is also reaching out to other community groups which have expressed concern about the condition of the living history site. Councillor Liz Welsh says Petrolia Heritage has had “a few positive conversations” with the foundation’s board members. Volunteers from Petrolia Heritage were among the people helping with spring clean up on the Victoria Day weekend.

And McCharles says Lambton County’s oil producers have also been contacted to help run the oil fields which in the past have funded the site. “The foundation has talked to the oil producers and the already seem to be on board,” he says adding some producers were on site this week to take a look at the wells.

And while the mayor is pleased with the new cooperative spirit between the foundation and the town, McCharles says the need is great. “They’re in a bit of a time squeeze,” he says noting the site opens for tourist this week.

The foundation recently hired two summer students to staff the site and according to town officials have only a handful of hours available for volunteers to staff the site.

“Any help from anyone would I’m sure be appreciated,” says McCharles adding money is also a problem so donations would also help as the foundation moves forward.