CFDC seeking funding to continue growth

Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre Executive Director Peter Cantelon requested funding for the museum at the Committee of the Whole meeting on August 12. (FILE PHOTO)

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The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre has seen immense growth over the past five years, and Executive Director Peter Cantelon wants to see that growth continue.

Cantelon presented to city council at the Committee of the Whole meeting, Aug. 12, to ask the city to invest in the museum.

CFDC’s previous five-year funding agreement with the city runs out this year, and Cantelon said he hoped councillors will keep CFDC in mind when putting together their next budget.

“We value the investment the city has brought to the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the contributions of the citizens through their council. Hopefully if they’ve seen the value we’ve brought, and we’ve grown substantially in the last five years, they’ll see the value in investing at an even higher level moving forward.”

During his presentation, Cantelon stressed how intertwined the City of Morden and CFDC are. “It’s no different in my mind than investing in any other level of infrastructure except that when you invest in roads, the road isn’t paying you back directly in terms of an economic impact,” he said. “When you invest in the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, you see that we can attract more visitors to the City of Morden.”

Cantelon said based on statistics from Travel Manitoba and their own numbers, a tourist from outside Morden brings approximately $75 per person per day to the city.

“The city’s investment into us over five years has been just over $550,000, but we’ve been able to turn that into $4.5 million in economic value back to the city,” Cantelon said. “It makes sense but it’s tough for people sometimes to see it because it’s what they would consider indirect or intangible.”

Using Travel Manitoba numbers, Cantelon estimated that CFDC has brought around 155,700 people to Morden since 1997 (almost 61,000 of those in the last five years) and has had an economic impact of $10,548,104 in that time.

Cantelon said CFDC is hoping for a funding increase of 11 per cent, which equates to $123,500 per year for five years.

“It’s aggressive because we want to grow aggressively,” Cantelon said. “If we want to sustain and maintain the growth rate we’ve seen over the last five to seven years, which has been substantial… it requires that level of investment.”

Cantelon said the more funding they receive, the more marketing they can do and the more programming they can develop.

“Additional investment allows us to market the CFDC and thus the City of Morden globally and attract more people, bringing more money into the community.”

If no funding increase is available, CFDC asked council to maintain their funding at $111,200 per year for five years.

“Every dollar in the past five years that has been invested has been turned into $10 on a return,” Cantelon said. “There’s no other investment like that anywhere in the market. You’d have to go to a casino and get lucky.”

The museum’s reputation has been growing. CFDC was featured in a six-page spread in Canadian Geographic, was designated one of seven Signature Museums in the province in 2016 and appears in over 1,400 news articles in the past five years.

CFDC’s resident mosasaur Bruce was also featured on a Canada Post stamp and a coin put out by the Royal Canadian Mint.

“We’ve doubled our visitation in the last five years,” Cantelon said. “We’d love to double it again. We had over 15,000 people visit the CFDC in 2018. The first seven months of 2019 are exceeding 2018 in terms of people and revenue.”

Cantelon said the museum is moving forward cautiously on plans for a new facility. “The city’s involvement has to be there but we want to make sure that however the city is involved it’s responsible and it’s sustainable,” he said. “A key word for a new facility is sustainable. We don’t want to build a spectacular field of dreams and then see it fail because we didn’t think about 10 to 20 years past construction.”

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