Hugh Ellenwood says digitization of documents can't replace keeping analog records.

Hugh Ellenwood says digitization of documents can't replace keeping analog records.

MP Hiebert defends cuts to archive program

MP Russ Hiebert says a decision to eliminate the National Archival Development Program was not part of federal budget deliberations.

The federal government is not responsible for the elimination of the National Archival Development Program (NADP) – a move critics say could lead to the collapse of Canada’s archival system.

That’s the message from South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert, responding to an open letter to him from White Rock Museum and Archives’ Hugh Ellenwood, published in Tuesday’s Peace Arch News.

Ellenwood had voiced concerns that federal funding cuts that curtailed the program pose a threat to the “documentary heritage of Canada,” saying the cuts are driven by a misguided reliance on digitization as a way to reduce costs.

Library and Archives Canada eliminated the program – the primary funding source for communities’ efforts to preserve and access their past – on April 30.

Hiebert told Peace Arch News it was “an arm’s-length Crown corporation” that made the decision; that it was not part of federal budget deliberations.

Tuesday, Ellenwood – who has yet to receive a formal response from Hiebert to his May 17 letter – characterized Hiebert’s comments as “a bit of a cop-out.”

“If the money for it doesn’t come in from the government, the project can’t be funded by Library and Archives Canada,” he said.

Until this year, the NADP had funding of $1.7 million annually.

Ellenwood pointed to a recent memorandum from the Canadian Council of Archives which says the organization – which has distributed federal funding and resources for archives since 1986, and administered the NADP since it was established in 2006 – will, in effect, cease to exist as a result of the April 30 decision.

“Its elimination will have a far-reaching and devastating impact for documentary heritage across Canada,” the memorandum states.

Ellenwood said the NADP has resulted in an internationally respected – and connected – network of archival organizations maintained to consistent federal-level standards.

On a local level, he said, White Rock Museum and Archives was able to reorganize to Canadian Archival standards in 1993 as a direct result of the Canadian Council of Archives and Archives Association of B.C. – both funded at that time by a predecessor of the NADP.

Hiebert told PAN he understands the priorities driving the Archives Canada decision.

“There are limited resources and space to store documents,” he said, adding he believes digitization of archives is “acceptable to Canadians.”

Hiebert said there is “too much information” to have it all kept in a hard format.

“(Archives are) certainly important and valuable to the community and we have invested heavily in providing space – such as the renovated White Rock Museum and Archives.

“We also have to recognize that we’re moving into a digital age, and we want to make the information available to as many Canadians as possible – and this accomplishes that.”

But Ellenwood said archivists across Canada reject the notion that digitization saves costs.

“Anyone who knows anything about digitizing papers and photographs” recognizes its only advantage is in ease of retrieval, he said.

“It’s a very expensive process to undertake and maintain,” he said, adding that compatibility issues are always a concern.

He warned that reliance on digitization as a substitute for “analog” archives – essentially storing documents and photographs in boxes – could come at a greater cost.

“It’s not a suitable surrogate,” he said. “All these things – systems, CDs and external drives –  are subject to failure, and digital failure is absolute.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

White Rock’s Joan Bywater shows the setup she uses when participating in online paint parties hosted by the Seniors Come Share Society. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual gallery showcases inspirations of Semiahmoo Peninsula seniors

‘What is art if not something that motivates more art?’

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read