Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Where Is Our Money Going?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 23, 2011

In her blog, Councillor Buck posted and then posted again that last Tuesday Council committed almost $5000 of our tax dollars to support/subsidize a Jazz Festival in town park. We are not sure why.

The community as a whole — who are funding this contribution — are not able to access this event. They would be required to pay an additional fee to attend.

Further, there are a variety of other revenue sources that have been identified that will contribute to the event coffers.

Some will say that any excess funds raised will be given to charities/community groups — which is a very positive thing.

However, let’s say that the event raises $10,000 after all expenses. That’s great.

But how much of these “expenses” went to pay performers, rental of equipment, etc? Potentially at market rates versus subsidized rates. We don’t know.

So who reaps the benefits of this event — the participants or the community. Are we even sure the organizers don’t take an honorarium or salary for running this event? It sounds like a for-profit venture that happens to donate left over funds to local charities so they can position themselves as a not-for-profit. Rather than a fund-raising event supported by volunteers so that funds can be raised for the community. That’s a different kettle of fish.

Equally important. If the town give $5000 and then the event donates $10,000 — effectively, the town has handed over $5000 to the group so they can donate it to the charity of their choice — versus the politicians making the judgment of where these funds should be spent.

In our opinion, the funds should not have been given — and if Council wants to donate some money to charity or community groups they should do so. That way we know exactly where our tax dollars are being spent.

Better the event only donate $5000 to local charities and then they can accept the full recognition for this generous donation — because they chose to use some of their profits to contribute to the community. This arrangement just muddies the water and we have seen where that has gotten us in past years.

In this case, we are either subsidizing an event or delegating authority to which charity our tax dollars are donated to. Neither which we support.

76 Responses to “Where Is Our Money Going?”

  1. Anonymous said

    To Anonymoose
    I do not consider it “small sponsorship for a few years” when we are facing a significant tax increase and there are plenty of people in town who can’t afford it.
    When budgets are in shortfall and demand for even higher taxes is on the table, that is the time to tighten the purse strings and focus on what is NECESSARY spending vs. “nice to have” spending. It is happening all around us: in private and public sector businesses, in the muncipalities around us, at the provincial level, at the federal level, at the global level. Council, for god’s sake get with the program and start making some hard decisions that do not keep reaching deeper into our pockets. Stop making irresponsible decisions simply because you don’t want to be unpopular with a few favorites. Consider the majority! We can’t afford another council like the last!!

  2. All of this talk about the park is public space and should not be fenced off, got me wondering. There must be a bylaw about this. Sure enough the Town’s web site has this nugget…..

    Of special import, look at these sections of:

    By-law Number 4752-05.P
    BEING A BY-LAW for the use, regulation and government of Parks and Public Places in the
    Town of Aurora.

    Restricted Areas
    2. While in any park or public place, no person shall enter into areas posted to
    prohibit or restrict admission of the public.

    Organized Gatherings and Picnics
    13. While in any park or public place, no person shall:
    (a) unless authorized by permit, hold a picnic, organized gathering or event for more
    than fifteen persons; or
    (b) interfere with a picnic, organized gathering or event authorized by permit.
    Permits and Licences

    Organized Sports or Activities
    19. (a) While in any park or public place, no person shall interfere with an organized
    sport or activity authorized by permit.
    (b) In addition to the prohibition set out in subsection (1), while in any park or public
    place no person shall utilize a designated area without a permit where same is
    posted to prohibit or restrict such use.

    Permits and Licences
    39. (a) Permits issued for activities contemplated in this by-law may be subject to
    such fees as Council shall from time to time establish.
    (b) Permits issued for activities contemplated in this by-law may include conditions as
    to time, location, area, equipment, number of participants, type of activities, release,
    indemnity, letter of credit and insurance coverage.
    (c) The issuance of a permit pursuant to this by-law shall not relieve any person from
    the necessity of acquiring any other license or permit required for such activity by any
    governmental or public authority.
    (d) No permit contemplated by this by-law shall be issued if same would result in the
    contravention of other applicable law.
    (e) A permit shall be obtained to install a gate on a fence line abutting Town own
    owned property.

    It seems to me that the Town has covered all of the issue discussed here. The event was allowed to do everything that they did – as long as their permit allowed it.

    For those that are thinking.. “of course, MorMac made this bylaw – that is why”…. well, look at the bottom….

    ___________________ __________________________


    • Huzzah! said

      RtB, you are the man!
      But I still don’t want the AFA getting a nickel of “sponsorship” from the town. They can pay the permit fee, fence the town park, and get as many sponsorships and grants as they can – just not from the Town’s coffers.
      How do you give to one group, and not another?

    • Anonymous said

      Great post Robert. And I’m enjoying your blog too.

  3. veritas said

    I do not agree with the handout to the AFA. Last year they got a 2K dollar handout. This year our taxes are purported to be going up by 7.8%, presumably to cover what is essential to cover. When my pocket is having to become deeper to swell the tax coffers, I strongly object to handouts to the likes of AFA increasing by more than 100%. Their activities are not essential. Enough is enough! If they cannot cover their own costs through sponsorship etc. I say, “Don’t do it! Find a business model that pays for itself!”

  4. Twitter me this said

    From the Twitter account of @AuroraJazzfest
    “Thanks to the town of Aurora for Sponsorship of the Aurora Jazz Festival”

  5. Guy L. Poppe said

    To In-Deed

    I assume your comment is referring to the Anne Bartley-Smith estate.

    Obviously, you are not aware of the particulars of that matter.

    The lady deeded the property to the OHF, or if not accepted, to the Town with a covenant that it be used as a park. The Town obtained legal opinions as to each party’s rights and obligations. Yes, the estate was given a tax credit for the charitable gift, if that has any bearing on the point.

    On the contrary, the deed to the Town for the property that was used for the “Town Park” did not appear to have such a covenant of restricted use. Any such covenant must be in writing and in the deed(See Ms. Stuart’s comment).

    The two situations are totally different, and incomparable.

    As an aside, the lawyers involved belonged to some of the most prestigious firms in Canada.

  6. Guy L. Poppe said

    Unfortunately, Mr. Watts is in error.

    A seller or gifter of property can require an agreement from the recipient that the property be used only for certain purposes. For example, a stipulation that the property could only be used as a park, can be written into the deed, and this would bind any subsequent purchaser from using it for other purposes. This is called a “restrictive covenant”.

    I am not aware of any law that says, in the absence of such a restrictive convenant, Town property, currently used as a park, cannot tomorrow be subject to another use. This quite evident from the fact that part of the property was sold to Her Majesty seven years later and that Ms. Stuart noted no such covenant in the deed.

    Nor am I aware of any law that precludes the Town from fencing or charging admission to some function as Mr. Watts claims. (See eg C.N.E)

    It is the Town that owns the park, and not the citizens.

    If it was otherwise, each and everyone one of us would, potentially, be personally liable in the event of an accident in the park

    • IN-DEED said

      Oh Right We get it, Just like the sweet deal Mrs. Smith made with OHT , wanted to keep the developers hands off the property ,but somehow and as yet conveniently inexplicably erred in restricting its future uses, I wonder if there was $ involved. Talk about sucking and blowing, Sort of reminds me of some two bit lawyers work ethic

    • Anonymous said


      I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

      In the case of the Smith property and the OHT, the OHT by its own mandate could only accept properties that were worthy of protection. Therefore a restrictive covenant was not required. To be clear, if someone had a very nice property in a subdivision that wasn’t of any particular historical, cultural or environmental importance they would not be able to donate the propety to OHT. That would leave the owner with the option of selling the property and then donating the cash to the OHT if they were so inlined.

      I hope that clears things up for you.

      As for the “sweet deal” you attribute to Mrs. Smith, it is my understanding that her estate in its entirety was left to various charites / government organizations. Hence the “sweet deal” you refer to was certainly of no consequence to Mrs. Smith, or for that matter, any or her issue.

  7. Where indeed? said

    The event promotes helping local charities.How much is slated for theses groups is unknown.

    An article from Snap October, 2010 states

    “The Aurora Jazz + Festival raised $2600.00 for Safehaven and Canadian Center for Abuse Awareness(CCAA).

    The presentation happened at Jonathans Restaurant.

    You can do the math as you wish.

    Thought some of you might be interested.

  8. Guy L. Poppe said

    Yeh Watts.

    So Watts assures us that he’s “not making this stuff up” but tells us he will investigate and tell you whether what he said is true or not.

    • Christopher Watts said

      Excuse me?

      Thanks for trying to put words in my mouth Mr. Poppe.

      That is not what I said.

      You can go back to sleep now, as you are already dreaming.

    • Anon Anon said

      Chris, as much as it pains me *gulp*, My Guy does have a point. You’re making statements as fact without verification and then continually perpetuating that misinformation. Please stop it. You’re letting the side down.

    • Christopher Watts said

      I have stated what I know, and what I intend to find out.

      I will share all of it with you, there is no “perpetuating misinformation”.

      And what “side” am I letting down exactly? I am only stating my opinion. By all means disagree.

    • Yeh POPEYE said

      As if popeye is the voice of authority and fact , Sheesh talk about the pot calling the kettle black, give us a break!!!!!

    • Anonymous said

      I think Mr. Poppe is correct.

      Either Mr. Watt’s is speaking from a position of fact and therefore only needs to cite his references or he’s not the sure of his position and needs to double check the facts.

      If Mr. Watt’s is claiming that he knows of what he speaks he just needs to check his facts now after-the-fact, then where did he get his information the first time around?

  9. Jacqueline Stuart said

    The sale of the land we now know as the Town Park was covered by instrument 4702, made on 4 November 1867 and registered two days later. This document may be seen (on microfilm) at the Land Registry Office in Aurora, at Bloomington and Yonge.

    The Village of Aurora paid $1,000 for the four and a half acres of land included in the purchase–the present Park area. This was a bargain, as the going price was $150 for a quarter-acre lot. The vendor was John Mosley. The instrument is a standard printed conveyancing form, with the blanks filled in manuscript. No restrictions were added.

    As long as we are in the Town Park . . . Seven years later the Village gave the federal government the half-acre block at the north-east corner of the park, along with the newly constructed drill shed which stood on it. The deed was actually issued to Queen Victoria, “To Have and to Hold unto Her Majesty and Her successors for the purposes of being used as a place of drill by Her Majesty’s Militia and for such other military purposes as Her Majesty and Her successors may see fit.” This is in instrument 515, made 14 September 1874 and registered 15 September 1874.

    And, a block away, John Mosley did donate the land to be used for the Anglican church.

    Jacqueline Stuart

    • Concerned Resident said

      Wasnt this event started on funds from the Farmers Market and then they were kicked to the curb.
      I think it was between 4 and 6 thousand that The Market never saw.
      Stinker-oni I sez.

    • Anonymous said

      You mean it wasn’t donated? And there are no restrictions? Hmmmmm thanks for the corrections!

    • Anonymous said

      “No restrictions were added.”

      So, once again, councillor Buck — parroted by Watts — has her information wrong. Big surprise.

    • Anonymous for a Reason said

      Jacqueline Stuart – always a voice of clarity and reason.
      b-t-w – your talk at the Cultural Centre last week was informative and entertaining. Looking forward to the next one in March.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      I’d also note that a gift given with restrictions isn’t much of a gift.

      Does the Town of Aurora in 2011 actually capitulate to that kind of political control when receiving donations?

      One thinks of the alleged entymology of the term “white elephant”. If you were fairly wealthy, you could buy an elephant and give to a friend. What with the special diet, housing, and care required, your rival could easily overspend ensuring that the elephant was in wonderful shape and you were pleased with that friend. Then you could quietly overtake your friend and ensure his downfall.

      Presents are ubiquitous. True gifts, not so much.

    • Elizabeth,

      IT WASN’T A GIFT! The park was a purchase. This gift/restriction thing is more hyperbole from the those that like to twist reality to suit their arguments.


    • Evelyn Buck said

      The information I have, comes from a man who was born and raised on Metcalfe Street, feet from the south-east corner of the park. Several generations of his family have lived on Metcalfe. Either a grandfather or a great grandfather had some association with the town or village as it may have been.
      When he died a box of town-related documents were found in his house. One related to the park and a condition that no admissions would ever be charged.
      I assumed the document would be the deed. That obviously is not the case.
      The understanding is the documents or document were returned to the town when they were discovered.
      My friend was terribly upset when he saw the chain-link fence around the park and learned admission was being charged, he asked his son to give me the information and make it public.
      I wonder if among the records ,there is any reference to the acquisition of the documents. I had informed the town solicitor of the information I received and the town was doing some digging.
      I did not think of asking you about such a thing as a covenanted deed.
      But I wonder if you know anything of other documents which might confirm my friend’s understanding there was such an agreement. It seems a likely possibility considering the fee paid was so reasonable.
      I think of the town park as being the most important heritage property. It distresses me that it has undergone so many changes since even I arrived. All over Ontario there are parks similar to ours looking and feeling as they always have. A place most likely to have spiritual contact with the town’s history.

    • Anonymous said

      So is Mayor Dawe and council listening – most people are annoyed that the town is forking over $5 000 for this event. Most people also seem to be annoyed that the event is charging residents when so many similar events are free…

      Is anybody listening?

    • Outraged said

      I find it outrageous that at the Council meeting dated February 22 a total of $5,000 was given to the Aurora Jazz Festival; $975 by waiver of park permit fee and $4,025 via sponsorship, presumably cash. A condition for this generosity is that by October 31 the Aurora Festival of the Arts “make a short presentation to Council on the results of their event, the benefits paid to the charities, the attendance, and a brief financial synopsis of the event.”

      Many comments have been made in connection with this topic. I agree fully with the originator. This is a commercial venture with a charitable twist. But we do not know now what this twist will consist of, i.e. a percentage of gross, of net, an arbitrary lump sum. It should be encouraged morally but not financially. The town already has a very successful “Concert in the Park” program with corporate sponsors and both it and they are to be congratulated for this.

      There is nothing wrong with commerce and with profit. I believe strongly in both. But a town has a responsibility to all of its residents, and a Council has a responsibility with respect to the expenditure of the public’s funds. It is interesting to note that the present Council does not yet have any hard numbers as to this year’s budget costs and requirements. It might have been appropriate to hold off on spending money “you do not know if you have.” Although, with flexible taxation policies of late, Council “can always find a few thousand more dollars.” This is the height of irresponsibility. What do you tell those living on fixed incomes with interest rates hovering near negative territory in purchasing power terms? Just raise taxes to cover every damn fool thing that comes along.

      We have a prosperous little town but look at the condition of most of our roads. I had occasion to use a cab today and commented to the driver on Aurora’s roads. His comment – “Some places it feels like a field.” And this from a man who spends his days on our roads. Most of you probably drive in town. What do you think? How about a post from AuroraCitizen on the condition of our roads and what can we afford to do to correct the bumps and holes and swoops that can catch a driver unaware?

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said


      I fully understand that Jacqueline Stuart said that the Town Park was purchased, and that it wasn’t a gift.

      I also fully understand that Chris Watts and Evelyn Buck feel that the land was likely a gift.

      My point was that a municipality that sets public policy based on gift-givers’ wishes is setting itself up for a non-democratic future.

      It may have happened in the past. It might be happening now. I have no doubt that these gifts were given with the best of intentions. I also have no doubt that after many generations, those intentions could very well be out of touch (What with the imperative for online presence and all, right Chris? Does Town Park have a Facebook page? WTF?) with those who live in the community in 2011.

      Really, all I’m asking about is policy.

    • Christopher Watts said


      When you ask something like “Does Town Park have a Facebook page”, it reads as though you could replace town park with dog. I thought I had cleared up that glaringly obvious misunderstanding through two posts over on my blog.

      So the WTF? can remain squarely with your comments which deserve to be questioned in this manner.

      I fail to see how you are making the case that covenants included in land use and deeds is “undemocratic”.

      Really, all I am asking about is policy too.

      I have requests in with the town and I will be making a trek over to the Land Registry office so I can ascertain with certainty, not “feel” as to the usage of town park regardless if it was acquired through sale or a gift.

    • Really? said

      Chris Watts said “I thought I had cleared up that glaringly obvious misunderstanding through two posts over on my blog.”
      Wow. Time to take off the stetson and let some air out of the melon, Chris.
      The discussion is at this blog, not yours.
      I don’t see any discussion over on your blog, except with yourself, so that’s not fun anymore.
      You have “requests” in with the town? Do you have that much spite for those that shall not be named, that you’re willing to make a nuisance of yourself, squander staff time, and harm any good will people feel towards you?
      I’m no fan of that family, and I don’t support giving them a penny, but you seem to be bringing it to an extreme level of being petty and vindictive – exactly what this town voted OUT!

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said


      I admire you for finding out the truth of the source of the ownership. It isn’t easy and it is important, but not for the reasons you have stated.

      But still… even when you know the source of the ownership, I will dispute the democratic value of any convenant. If there is some reason why an asset that the Town thought it owned and managed is not, in fact, its own to manage, that is a serious problem.

      The restriction you have described means that publicly owned lands cannot be used in particular ways. We have regular elections so that we can elect Council. Part of Council’s job is to review the policies that govern the use of our collectively owned assets and we shouldn’t be held hostage to the disappointment of the heirs of the donor. If a covenant is restrictive, it diminishes the Council’s ability to change the use of the land, and so it reduces the democratic right of each individual to ask for change in our community.

      Should individuals band together and form an association, it is my opinion that they still have the right to ask Council for the use of an area owned by the Town. Sports groups do it all the time and some of those sports groups are privately owned businesses. Baseball associations use the Town Park and expect exclusive use of the Park facilities for their rental time.

      Why do we expect arts groups to have to put up with a different set of rules about working with the Town to rent public assets for their exclusive use?

      I am writing only about the use of Town Park, not the sponsorship of the festival, which is a different problem. I am also not expecting that the Town should cancel the contract with one group in favour of another. That lesson was learned last year.

    • Anonymous said

      To all those who believe the park was gifted with restrictions, see below.

      “The Village of Aurora paid $1,000 for the four and a half acres of land included in the purchase–the present Park area. This was a bargain, as the going price was $150 for a quarter-acre lot. The vendor was John Mosley. The instrument is a standard printed conveyancing form, with the blanks filled in manuscript. No restrictions were added.” as per Jaquiline Stewart.

      With all due respect to Councilor Buck, Mr. Watts, and all the others, I put my faith in Ms. Stewart.

      Enough said.

    • Christopher Watts said

      It is in”deed” important and especially for the reasons I outlined. I don’t care about issues with sponsorship with one group or another as they don’t factor into this issue. Sure associations, individuals and foundations can approach council to ask for the use of a park. They can also agree to pay the user fees and with them accept the usage guidelines and responsibilities of the space which is not what we are seeing here which can only be explained as a sense of entitlement.

      I understand there to be a covenant that says that the public should not be charged admission to town park.

      I think this is a more than fair usage guideline, it is not restrictive but all inclusive. What is the point of using the term “held hostage”? That only applied last year when the the town park was held hostage from the public because of the way it was used.

      Did you feel that the G20 fences were democratic?

      I don’t understand there to be a separate set of rules for one organization or another, where did you come to this understanding? How do you claim that “arts groups” are subjected to separate rules? What other groups are you comparing them to…Sports Groups?

      Doe Sports groups take over town park, erect fences and charge admission? I haven’t seen that. Until they do I don’t think they are a good comparable. Sounds to me like you’re comparing apples and oranges, or apples and dogs again.

      Disputing such a covenant that outlines a very democratic use of town park, by and for all people, can hardly be misconstrued as being undemocratic.

      Town park is a public park.

      The covenant, not restriction, I mentioned does indeed mean that publicly owned lands cannot be used in particular ways: They cannot be used to deny the public.

      We do not hold elections so that elected officials can start making up rules as to how a public park can be sealed off from the public regardless a private group’s desires to do so.

      Town park is less than an ideal venue for this festival.

      It needs to be moved to one of the other parks in town that accommodates events of this scale.

      No one here has convinced me otherwise.

      I hope that these concerns are brought before councilors and maybe council as a whole and the “sponsorship” that the town has agreed to be contingent upon relocating the festival to a park that is more suitable.

    • Elizabeth,

      I agree with you completely. Who cares in 2011 what a family said or supposedly said in the 1860s. They could never forsee the changes that have occured over that time. Besides, did the transaction say “You can never fence it off so that a Jazz Festival can be held there”?

      As as Watts’ going on a witch hunt to find the truth…. Why not just admit that you made this up in fit of rage over the incident and move on. You have already been given the location of the information in question. I would think that the Ontario Government records have some merit behind them.


    • Concerned and burned said

      Has anyone talked to the Fire Department.

      Can the Town park hold 10,000 people safely.

      I say not.

      Clr.Ballard mention that many people may attend.

    • sharon said

      I agree with Mr. Watts that finding a more appropriate site for this festival is needed. If 5,000-10,000 attendees is the goal, there is a real concern for parking and overcrowding. The bandshell area is charming, with mature trees and lots of old time ambiance, and suited to the smaller venue this festival was 2 years ago.
      I have a hard time believing that there were 5000 in attendance last year, as I found the participation spotty and not crowded at all. Maybe the evening session was fuller. Again, council has given their blessing and all our concerns here will have to wait until next year to have merit.
      I certainly do not like the antics going on already between camps, nasty emails to councillors from spouses of the AFA, more poking at the St. Kitts family, who should know better and stay low. I ask that saner heads prevail, to stop the nit picking and nyahs nyahs and get on with life. Choose your battles, this shouldn’t be one of them.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Chris Watts asks: “Doe Sports groups take over town park, erect fences and charge admission? I haven’t seen that. Until they do I don’t think they are a good comparable. Sounds to me like you’re comparing apples and oranges, or apples and dogs again.”

      Chris, next time you’re at the Town Park and there is a game between the Aurora Diggers and an out of town team, I wouldn’t recommend trying to join in the fun. Fees will have been paid for exclusive rights to use of the fenced space. The expectation will be that the space will be reserved for admission for particular people (according to league rules, not the whimsy of disappointed descendants of alleged donor).

      I wouldn’t recommend trying to participate in an unfenced AYSC soccer game on the north side of the park, either. Again, fees will have been paid to ensure that only children of the appropriate age are allowed to have exclusive use of the small fields to participate in their U-8 and under league games. Win or lose, surely it would give one team or the other an unfair advantage to have Chris join in on the game.

    • Fair Play said

      Very good Elizabeth!

    • Christopher Watts said


      Does a baseball game fence the entire town park and prohibit admission to it? Or just the ball diamond.

      I completely expect sports teams that have registration and fees would not look kindly on someone walking in off the street and participating.

      This is Apples and dogs again and has nothing to do with the discussion to fence off town park and charge admission to the public. There is no win or lose in this scenario, just the latter.

    • sharon said

      Fences for private use of parks? How about the Turf Field at Sheppards Bush? And all the extra costs incurred for it? To be used soley by elite sports groups. Anybody notice how poorly the fence has been installed, and because of this poor labour, more costs will be charged to the town.
      Way off in left field, no pun intended. Ms. Bishenden got me started.
      Back to the party at the park!

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Chris, a baseball game restricts activities only on the fenced area for baseball.

      A soccer game restricts areas only on the unfenced areas that are marked with chalk.

      Whe DND/Queen’s York Rangers activities are undertaken, I’m not sure how the areas are marked. Not sure I’d be inclined to test it myself.

      As I said before, fees paid, exclusive access given.

      Last year’s Jazz Fest didn’t restrict access to the entire park, either.

    • Christopher Watts said

      Last year’s jazz festival restricted access to the park, including the washrooms. It escorted people that were enjoying their snacks/breakfast seated on the parks pick nick tables.

      Until you can provide a comparable sports event that has acted in such an unforgivable and undemocratic manner I don’t believe there is any merit in your comparables.

      I have no problems with sports teams and how they use designated fields, ball diamonds…etc.

      I have a huge problem when a park is used inappropriately as our town park has.

      This jAzz festival needs to find a more appropriate venue. End of story.

    • Anonymoose said

      “Last year’s jazz festival restricted access to the park, including the washrooms. It escorted people that were enjoying their snacks/breakfast seated on the parks pick nick tables.”

      What? And you don’t think picnic’rs having a meal in the middle of a soccer field would not have also been made to leave before the game started.

      All sports that use town infrastructure, including fields, diamonds, swimming pools, and hockey arenas are comparable. As well you could add many noteable music festivals from Fergus to peterborough that receive municipal funds, use municipal land AND charge admission. Get over it.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      ACC1 any Friday night or Sunday afternoon with a home game.

      The artificial turf soccer field any time you want to play pickup soccer.

      The gym at the AFLC anytime you want to do a spin class or work out in the gym.

      Either of the swimming pools at the AFLC or the SARC.

      These are all examples of when you cannot use sports facilities to have a picnic without paying a fee.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Chris, here are some Town of Aurora owned venues where you cannot have a picnic without paying a fee:

      ACC1 any Friday night or Sunday afternoon with a Jr A home game.

      The artificial turf soccer field any time you want to play pickup soccer.

      The gym at the AFLC anytime you want to do a spin class or work out in the gym.

      The deck at either of the swimming pools at the AFLC the SARC anytime of the day or night.

      The Aurora Community Tennis Club except for the posted public hours.

      The Aurora Lawn Bowling Club anytime you want to breathe. (Check out the cost of that one for the Town.)

      The Lebovic and Magna Rooms over at the building the town shares with the Aurora Public Library.

      The Town has many resticted venues. They manage them according to policy.

      Not “end of story”. But a nice start on the use of facts.

    • Anonymous said

      Access to the washrooms was restricted for only a short time before staff went out and moved the fences.

      Anyone using logic to show Watts this is no different than dozens of other examples of public facilities being used by private groups is fighting a losing battle.

      Why? St. Kitts. That’s all this has ever been about.

    • Anonymoose said

      “Why? St. Kitts. That’s all this has ever been about.”

      Indeed. There are certain people here who bemoan the ‘mormac’ regime for not getting past the last election, while at the same time continuing to carry their own grudges forward. I like the Jazz Festival, as I like the street sale, as I like the Farmers Market, and many other special events in the town.

      If it takes a few years of small sponsorship to get it up and running then so be it. That was the case with the farmers market too.

  10. I think it is a dangerous precident and it should nipped in the bud.

    If there is an admission charge, then there is an obligation to account for every dollar spent and every dollar received.

    I like the idea of a different venue. There is a bad linkage between the Town Park and this event. I say start anew, have it somewhere else.

    However, I think I should get a group together, apply for a Trillium grant to hold an outdoor rock festival (a la Woodstock). We can use the Anne Bartley Smith property.

    The “Robert The Bruce” Festival of Rock benefiting homeless rock bands in Aurora and York Region.


  11. Tim the Enchanter said

    The issue as as far as I’m concerned is charging admission.
    That makes it a business venture and the AFA has asked the town to be an investor.
    Check out all of the other jazz festivals around Ontario.
    Oakville, Burlington, Barrie and Markham to name but a few.
    Along with corporate sponsors the Markham festival lists several government money sources including the Arts Council of Ontario, Trillium Foundation and the Town of Markham.
    The difference?
    These are all FREE festivals.

    I feel council (except for Ms Buck) missed out on that point.
    It’s not about whether or not a jazz festival is a good thing – I think it is.
    It is about ‘double-dipping’ and the intangible hoped-for “spin-off” benefit to the town doesn’t alter that fact.

    The math is simple.
    The festival costs X dollars.
    Organizers pursue corporate sponsorships and government grants/donations, sell vendor space etc; until they get X dollars.
    That makes it non-profit and that’s all done before anyone plays a note.
    Gate receipts are an after-the-fact unknown quantity that can’t be factored into the X dollar cost of the festival because you’d only be guessing.
    Do you base it on 5000 attendance ie; $25,000?
    what if 10,000 attend – who gets the extra $25,000?
    What if it rains and 1000 people show up – who covers the $20,000 shortfall?

    The AFA says it’s a not-for-profit deal.
    Scrap the admission charge.
    Otherwise, as an investor, I expect to see a full and complete financial report provided in a timely fashion.

    • Luckywife said

      Excellent points, Tim. We have relatives in Barrie and have been invited many times over the years to join them for the various events at their Kempenfelt Park. The activities start in May and there is something going on almost every weekend right through to September. I called and asked if they have ever been charged a fee for attending any of these events. They have never paid a dime to enter or make use of their public park and beach or to attend any festival or craft show. Several events request a donation to The Food Bank or a charity but it is not mandatory. They have never been denied access to their public park. Many events have a Beergarten, which is fenced off in a specific area for adults only; you pay only for the booze, not for entering. They were shocked that to hear that this event fences off a huge section of a public park and charges entrance fees for access. How is that even legal? Any of the events we have attended, the cost for food or craft items has been quite expensive, understandable considering the need to cover costs and make a profit. I have no idea if Barrie waives fees or contributes to these events.

      Many assume that the mutual animosity between the St. Kitt’s and Evelyn Buck is the root of all the outrage over this event. Perhaps true for some, but it has nothing to do with my concerns. Any fault for how this is being handled rests solely with Council and The Town. The questions we should be asking and have a valid right to know the answers to have nothing to do with a Councillor’s personal bias. Does the Town have a clear policy regarding grants? If so, what is it? Is there an application that must be submitted to the Town for a grant? What are the eligibility requirements? Are the policy and the application posted on the Town’s website? If not, why? It seems to me that any number of worthy events and organizations coming hat in hand requesting funds, free use of Town facilities etc… are just a deserving or not, of the AFA. Will their causes be any less worthy of consideration by Council than the AFA? With no clear policy, criteria, or application requirements the decisions made to award or not are all based on Council members personal bias.

      Shocking, inappropriate, unaccountable, and a clear abuse of taxpayer trust.


    • Evelyn Buck said

      To Tim The Enchanter

      An Investment anticipates a return.

      Money handed out without expectation of return is a hand-out in any sense of the word.

      Prizes solicited from local business for a silent auction under the auspices of the municipality, suggests funds are being raised for a community cause.

      In March 2008, no proceeds were declared from such a fund-raiser at the Aurora Legion.

      After the fact, it was declared to be a “party” to get “red-hot Canadians” warmed up for “the best July 1st Parade Ever in the History of Aurora”

      No accounts were offered. Contributors asked. Still no figures,

      My own efforts to have staff obtain an accounting were stone walled.

      Staff responded they could not require an accounting from the July 1st Parade sub-committee of the Leisure Services Advisory Committee of the Town.

      The committee was associated with the Christmas Dream Team, a fund-raising group for another charitable event which had no obligation to account to the town.

      Subsequently the town held a ceremony with cake at the Town Hall, to honour the Number 1 Volunteer of the Town of Aurora.

      Funds were provided in the town’s budget to pay for special events in support of the Farmer’s Market.

      The Number 1 volunteer was the special events co-ordinator on the executive of the Farmers Market.

      The Mayor of the day,was given authority to write cheques for Farmers Market special events. Steven Granger was Council’s co-ordinator with the Market.

      The market’s move from Temperance Street to Wells Street in the vicinity of the park and the band shell happened about the same time.

      The theory being the Market would be able to grow. I think it did somewhat. But into the park.

      When the Jazz Festival was organized, the Farmers Market were informed by the town’s Bylaw officer they had never had a right to have vendors in the park.

      That was after Number 1 Volunteer resigned from the Market Executive because they refused demands to pay for all promotions by Number 1 Volunteer.

      And after said volunteer delegated to Council with pictures to show how market vendors were not abiding by the rules. I have seen the e-mails exchanged. I also understand hundreds were received with orders and demands to town staff about requirements for the fenced off,admission charged, vendors leased, musicians paid at scale, Jazz Festival.

      Elected to represent the interest of the tax- paying community,I considered it my responsibility to keep people informed and aware of details of these matters.I did not consider their best interests represented.

      In return, I have been variously drenched by unsubstantiated and unfounded accusations and allegations at a meeting of council, at the invitation and encouragement of the head of the council, despite the advice of the town’s legal counsel.

      I am currently accused by anonymous contributors to this blog of personal hatred of the Number 1 Volunteer because I persist in my view that town funds handed out for no good reason to an individual who has repeatedly exploited and abused town resources and other groups within the community for financial advantage of a private family business.

      Once more the argument is successfully deflected to the question of who owns the town park? Should it ever be fenced? Does the town have jurisdiction over how it will be used…or not?

      In the first year I was a councillor, the white picket fence surrounding the park was removed for a horse show.It was in bad shape. The town decided the park better looked without the fence. It was not restored.
      Mosely Park was the home of the Aurora Horse Show, put on by the Aurora Agricultural Society.There may have been an admission charge for that event.I do not recall. But the Town was a partner.I believe I recall a line item in the town’s budget.

      Likely the Society was responsible for accounting. Any admission revenue would help to defray the cost.As Mayor I was a member of the executive of the Aurora Agriculture Society. In terms of history, it’s not that long since the Society gave up the ghost.

      Perhaps Ms Stuart has the Society’s records and can fill in the gaps once more.

    • Anonymous said

      I agree with Lucky wife. There should be clear policies that govern the uses, costs, restrictions of town facilities including parks and they HAVE to be applied consistently and fairly.
      I think there are many of us who have wanted to put an end to favouritism and conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Our tax dollars have to be spent responsibly and equitably. I am appalled that the process to secure $5K is merely to show up at 2 consecutive council meetings and make a stink. Surely there are formal procedures for applying for public funds and making decisions. If there aren’t, it’s about time there were. A couple of council meetings ago we were assured that allocation of pool time is governed by policies and procedures and that it is managed by staff. Private swimming enterprises, it seems have to pay for their pool time. So what’s the problem with park use being governed by a set of policies and procedures that includes user fees too? After all we know that it is a private family music business that is behind this festival.
      Today’s news cites another example misuse of public dollars. This time it is the Toronto Community Housing program. The Chair and CEO claim they have no knowledge that this fraudulent spending happened. If accountability was rigorous, perhaps it would have come to light long before the auditor general’s report. Who knows it might even have been prevented in the first place. There’s a thought!!
      I don’t care whether it’s $5, $5000 of $5 million, it has to be scrutinized and accounted for. This is our money and I am tired of others being irresponsible in their overview in how that money is being doled out. Would they be so laissez faire if it all came out of their own personal pockets? I think not.

  12. sharon said

    Why are you causing trouble before there is any?
    Why are you creating an aura (no pun intended) of mistrust with an event that can only be positive for the town. The music is fantastic, and the park venue is perfect for this kind of event. I am no fan of Ms. St. Kitts but she does know how to gather good musicians together. That the group is now wise enough to have a new spokeperson, and re organize their efforts in light of past differences, and agree to submitting proper financial statements for this year, shows dedication and a high degree of commitment that this festival will once again be a success. Good musicians cost money, they do not come free of charge. Town sponsorship of the Jazz Festival is a good thing for Aurora. The 5000.00 is a pittance compared what other organized events cost the town. Please, rather than fight this, support it. Come out and enjoy the music. Who knows, you may even let your guard down and enjoy yourself. And no, I am not involved with the AFA, I’m just looking forward to a weekend of great music!

    • Anonymous said

      They may have a new spokesperson. That does not mean, however, that anything has changed behind the scenes. One of my strongest objections has always been the conflict of interest in the St. Kitts supposedly organizing these things for the good of others. They get well paid gigs out of every one of them and THAT is conflict of interest.

    • sharon said

      I still don’t understand the hostility.
      There is a large group of volunteers who put on this event.
      The entertainers are paid to perform. As they should be.
      If there is any money left after paying for everything, it is
      donated to specific charities.
      The current spokewoman has confirmed that there will be financial disclosure.
      You don’t like the woman who was in charge in the past? That’s your problem. Council does not seem to have a problem going forward, why should you?

    • Sharon,

      “Council does not seem to have a problem going forward, why should you?”

      Where have you seen that they are going forward? They seem to be working on past issues more than future.

      St Kitts is the “Evil Empire” to most here. As long as there is a St Kitts involved, people here will not hear anything about it.


    • Christopher Watts said


      You claim that this post, and certain contributors are “hostile” or “causing trouble”. Outside of your comments I fail to see where this claim is valid.

      Interesting choice of words as they seem more appropriately applied to the organizers of the previous festival who booted people out of their park, booted out the Farmers Market that already paid to rent the park, but okay, lets let that go and turn our attention to what is being set up for this year.

      Please explain how by it’s virtue this festival can “only be positive”.

      The park venue has proven to be absolutely inappropriate for this event, and now the event is growing. There are security concerns, parking concerns, noise concerns, vandalism concerns and the park is being fenced off from the public.
      I hardly call this appropriate.

      I don’t care what good musicians cost, it is not my concern as a tax payer, or attendee. This is responsible for the organizers and they have claimed they are incapable of hosting such a festival without such a significant outlay of capital they do not have.

      What other events cost the town so much money that $5000 is a pittance by comparison, and how does it have any bearing on this festival? I’d like to know.

      Others have drawn comparison to similar festivals that are much more successful than Aurora’s and they are all free. I would include the Toronto Beeches Jazz Festival. Are you saying their acts are not as good as Aurora’s?

      To say the Jazz Festival is a good thing for Aurora is opinion not fact. Perhaps if the financial records, outlining R.O.I. to the town, or failing that an agreement to return the $ invested to the town from other revenue sources, or failing that not fencing the park, or failing that not charging admission so the event is inclusive to all Aurorans.

      Objections being made to how this festival and foundation are conducting their private business are valid and should be expected.

      Liking or not liking someone isn’t the problem.

      I don’t care who runs it.

      I don’t care if they disclose their books or not.

      I don’t care if this is volunteer run or everyone is paid.

      I also don’t care about the involvement to charities, as someone pointed out if an attendee wants to contribute to a charity, or in this case a taxpayer they should make the decision. That is not being afforded to them. Donating money to charities looks to be a smokescreen.

      None of this has relevance on the discussion.

      This is not a town run special event.

      If this foundation is incapable of running the event without the town’s sponsorship (which it looks like they are as it is required by their grant) or without waiving the park fees then why should the town invest.

      If they are capable why should the town invest.

      By all means have a Jazz+/- festival.

      Just put it in an appropriate venue, say Machel Park where some fencing can be erected but where no admission is charged excluding the public, where there is plenty of parking, noise concerns are minimized.

      Then, and only then will this town be encouraged to come out and enjoy the music.

      You know, like we already do, at Ribfest.

      This new and fledgling foundation could learn a lot by taking the town’s lead and consulting with a real special event’s coordinator.

    • sharon said

      Council approved 5,000. and approved waiving the permit fee.
      So I see that as moving forward. They weren’t bogged down with discussion over where the festival will take place. AFA states they will play nicely with the Farmers Market, and there is no visible sign of the ‘Evil” Sher to pick on. sO LET’S MOVE ON.
      I like Evelyn Buck, I admire Ms. St. Kitts and I even give credit to Wendy Gaertner. In fact even MorMac had their good moments in my eyes. They are people, far from perfect, all trying to do what’s important to them for this community. As a volunteer that would rather stay in the trenches than in the limelight, I see the need for all these personalities that make up our town. Now, children, stop bickering and everyone get along.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      SHARON–Re You say why are you causing trouble in your post I posted a comment on Mr St Kitts web link–you can read it by clicking on it your self ( not vial or rude) You should read the vial and rude e-mail i receive back on to my home e-mail address . I did not mention the hate full words in my last posting of the incident as i not feel they were appropriate and still do not, yet after reading your supportive posts ..I could forward it to you so maybe you could explain why it was necessary so i could move on as you are telling everyone?? One calmer comment from George ST Kitts thou was should people outside of Aurora get in free,well does that mean if i come with a Aurora address on my drivers lic i will get in free??.MY comment on his web page was only about his name on top off advertising for Aurora jazz+ fest and just maybe the ST Kitts should be putting up the money instead of town i then said maybe he should show the poster with their name up top in local papers to see how the rest of residents response to it as per his free advertising on the town sponsored event, as it sure seems like St Kitts are running it even thou the family name is not been mentioned publicly in the press etc ??, as they always said they supported transparency and openness Yes there is someone, a spokes women slash organizer? maybe she can speak on this vial feed back i a question on the Aurora Jazz+ Festival or would she have to get permission from some where else ..Like i have said before other local not for profit groups were denied a much smaller grant recently and one of them work for the betterment of childrens safety and growth,No shame meant to town or council, i just guess this group not have right lobbyists and went by the rules upfront, what ever they are as i not know the criteria for approval

  13. Sophie said

    The Auroran of Feb. 22 reports that only $2000 was approved for this festival. Also, from what I read Susan Morton-Leonard is the organizer for the Aurora Festival of the Arts. And, the AFA is required to provide a full accounting of their monies after the festival is over. Did I get a special newspaper or am I the only one who read this article.

  14. Anonymous said

    Joe Blogs is right. This is all about St. Kitts.

    There are many other events where private organizations can rent public buildings and charge admission, like hockey tournaments at public rinks or fairs on public land. Council gives money to many non-for-profit events. I’ve never heard a complaint about those.

    This is nothing more than misguided spite being directed at a great community event because of St. Kitts’ involvement.

    In this case staff and all of council — save Buck — supports it. And Buck has an axe to grind with St. Kitts.

    What’s next? Demanding a line-by-line accounting from students who get sponsorships from town? Support the Canadian Cancer Society? We need an audit from you first!


    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      TO-Anonymous–Yes by all means Jazz festival is a good thing..Yes Joe Blogs may be right , but its not just about Mrs Bucks axe to grind, have you or others forgot the way St Kitts continuously ranted at ordinary town folk in past, re no culture etc if you not attend things she involved in, she the best volunteer in AURORA ((its all in print) SO also yes you mention the name ST Kitts around town and you never know what will come back at you…I wonder why , also Sheesh. most heal in time or if she to apologize to the so called un cultured town folk maybe sooner..HAPPY DAYS AHEAD 🙂

    • Anonymous said

      Not-for-profit organizations such as the Cancer Society or, in the case of a local one, CHATS, hold AGMs and publish annual reports, which give an accounting of their activities and finances. Why should the AFA not live by the same standards?
      If someone just knocked on your door and asked you for $5K, would you hand it over? No, I thought … and neither should the town, which, afterall is spending our dollars. Yes, I do want an accounting for where it goes and to whom.

    • Joe Blogs said

      Whoa Anonymous 7:59, I simply asked the question “If the St. Kitts weren’t part of this event, would we all think it is a good thing for the town.” I didn’t say I supported it!
      As much as I might think that a festival of this sort is good for the town (hence my question), I concur with many on this blog that I’m no fan of the St. Kitts family. Let’s be clear, the family are in the entertainment business. They will be paid for the services they provide, and there will likely be plenty of services provided.
      I don’t want my tax dollars in any way contributing to their endeavours.

    • No 'I' in Dream Team but Two in Invoice said

      “St Kitts Music Inc: Producer Sponsor”

      …and major beneficiary?

    • Anonymous said

      to “No ‘I’ in Dream Team but Two in Invoice”

      As you pointed out there’s no I in team.

      But as certain members of that “team” have proven there is a “M” and an “E”.

  15. Stephanie said

    Some info:

    “Aurora Festival of the Arts (“AFA”) non-profit organization operating as Aurora jazz+ Festival 2011 Aurora Town Park. AFA Goals: to showcase & support local talents; to create a musical community gathering; to care for those in need; to build an inclusive Arts/Music Festival attracting those who love culture, arts and music to Aurora every August long weekend. Make Aurora/York Region a tourist destination.”

    “Why Jazz PLUS +? Because it’s an all inclusive arts and music festival including visual artists, film festival artists, several genres of music with a jazz backbone including fusion/Latin/contemporary; big band; rock/roll; R & B; Folk; Soul; Motown, pop and multi-cultural music!”

    “Also supporting two local charities CCAA and Safehaven

    “Contact: Sher St. Kitts
    1359 Wellingston St. W.
    King City, Ontario L7B 1K5

  16. Joe Blogs said

    If the St. Kitts weren’t part of this event, would we all think it is a good thing for the town?

  17. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    I’d note that the Town of Aurora has many programs that require extra fees.

    The Leisure Services Guide is full of them. The Aurora Public Library has more. The Aurora Seniors Centre offers even more.

    One access point that I am very familiar with is ice time at the local rinks. The Town provides five indoor ice surfaces that are available to the public for free on only rare occasions. For the most part, if you want to use the ice, you have to pay a fee. If you want regular access, you can join a local hockey association and be assigned ice time. It ain’t cheap.

    I have two questions about the groups that partner with the Town to use the amenities.

    1. Is the group willing to account for both public and private finances?
    2. Is the Town Council willing to work within a policy of fair access for all citizens?

    Mainly I have to ask… why is there a difference in the way the park space is treated compared to arena/swimming pool/baseball diamond/soccer pitch space?

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Good point E B as i thought Town of Aurora has maintained a policy of not handing out cash money to any not for profit group in the past,charity or other wise..I could be wrong..Big Sisters and BROTHERS for one were recently denied a 1000 dollar grant to help set up a locked up file storage area in their new location in town..again just a thought as here, a 975 dollar user fee is being waived also

    • Anonymous said

      “Mainly I have to ask… why is there a difference in the way the park space is treated compared to arena/swimming pool/baseball diamond/soccer pitch space?”

      The aforementioned are capital intensive, relative to parks, and were built for specific needs. Parks are for the general use of the public and better suited to “festivals”, etc. If the Jazz festival was held in an arena I would hope the fees charged were reflective of the costs.

      I was hoping there was a “fair” policy in place already and administered in a likewise fashion.

    • Christopher Watts said

      “why is there a difference in the way the park space is treated compared to arena/swimming pool/baseball diamond/soccer pitch space?”

      Perhaps because the town park that has been chosen is being used in a way that contravenes its purpose laid out in its deed.
      It was never to be fenced, or an admission charged.
      The family that donated the park was appalled that there was a fence erected last year, and there is talk of it again.

      If the Jazz+/- festival wants to run in a town park perhaps it should be moved to a park more suitable for achiving the objectives.

      Machel Park is a perfect location for an event the scale of Ribfest. I don’t see where it wouldn’t work from a logistical standpoint. It could facilitate the parking, security and noise issues that plagued last year’s festival.

      Town Park is not a suitable venue for such a festival.
      It wasn’t suitable last year, it certainly won’t be suitable this year if there is the projected growth that is claimed.

      As for the town paying for any of it, I think the other commenters here have summed it up perfectly. There is no reason to. It is not part of the town’s leisure services, it is not part of the town’s special events.

      Those are key differentiators to town subsidized services and events.

      Why isn’t this festival held in King….oh right they already have a sucessful music festival, one that doesn’t exclude people from public land.

    • Huh? said

      Chris Watts said “Perhaps because the town park that has been chosen is being used in a way that contravenes its purpose laid out in its deed.
      It was never to be fenced, or an admission charged.
      The family that donated the park was appalled that there was a fence erected last year, and there is talk of it again.”

      Chris, are you making this stuff up? How do you know “the family” was appalled? I don’t think any “family” really has a say in the matter 140 years after the land was SOLD!

      Oh, and I’m not in favour of the St. Kitts receiving any funds from taxpayers’ coffers.

    • Anonymous said

      “Chris, are you making this stuff up? How do you know “the family” was appalled? I don’t think any “family” really has a say in the matter 140 years after the land was SOLD!”

      Maybe his Stetson is too tight.

    • Christopher Watts said

      I can assure you I am not “making this stuff up”.

      I have submitted an inquiry with the town regarding their archives and will report back to everyone on this thread as to my findings which will hopefully include the deed itself and the covenant that is supposedly therein.

      I will also be contacting the family I mentioned and look to confirm or deny their feelings on the matter. I understand they are a founding family of the town so yes I believe what they have to say needs to be recognized.

      As for my “stetson” it’s interesting that someone has enough time to comment on my choice of attire, I can only assume this commenter was at the last council meeting which I attended wearing my hat.

      The fact that they don’t have the courage to use their real name leads me to believe they have something lodged up their Jazz, most likely their own head.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Has anyone see the advertising on the poster on George St Kitts. web page–it say about the festival_ST-KITTS music-the AURORA JAZZ+ FESTIVAL.. I thought it was THE AURORA JAZZ+ FESTIVAL of THE ARTS…Is this just free advertising or is there a hidden agenda some where?=–I sent a comment to his web, re the ST Kitts family should pay for the advertising on their own.Received back from him.Hey dude not know what to say about you and your crew, would it be OK if i put your name on it IN closing not knew i had i crew ,i guess there is a assumption that no one on here is speaking on our own..Check it out for yourself-is there any need for anyone’s name on it other than THE AURORA JAZZ+ FESTIVAL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: