Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

The Elephant in the Budget

Posted by auroracitizen on March 8, 2011

Recently on several blogs in the Town of Aurora, there have been controversial posts about the recent history of the Church Street School, which currently houses the Aurora Cultural Centre.  The ACC is now governed by a board that operates at arm’s length from the Town, but receives Town funding through an agreement that ends next year.

The Church Street School used to be the home of a museum operated by the Aurora Historical Society.  When the building was renovated, it appeared that there would be a Town of Aurora commitment to include a new museum.  Now there is lots of storage of artifacts, but no real museum.

Lots of folks love the Aurora Cultural Centre and want it to continue to be funded.  Lots of other folks want to fund a museum dedicated to Aurora’s history.  Some folks want both.  A few want neither.

Would you prefer to have this new cultural centre supported by your taxes, or would you prefer to respect the heritage of the past?

Would you prefer to have an unelected committee tell you what’s worth watching and doing, or have the funding oversight remain with Council?

Would you like to spend your hard-earned tax dollars housing bits and pieces of antiquity or focus on the future cultural opportunities within our community.

Or are you somewhere in between?  If you are, what does that mean for the Town budget?

Have your say here on this blog.  What should happen in the future?

60 Responses to “The Elephant in the Budget”

  1. Helen said

    Is there an Elephant in the budget or is Ms Evelyn Buck doing the same thing that she always does, creating controversy. Is there really an issue here? Do we want to tear down the birth of something wonderful; a Centre where people can come and share their cultural diversity, display their inventiveness and perspective through art, invite artists to share their artistic endeavors, put on the kinds of shows and concerts that were never before possible in Aurora? Aurora is no longer the small town north of the city. People are moving into Aurora from all parts and have brought with them a demand for more programming and points of interest. The library is a wonderful place, but when I tried registering for a childrens program there where little options for a mother of 3, it was extremely disappointing. I come from the 2nd most favourable Canadian city to live in, Burlington ON, and there the demand for programming grows everyday. The Burilngton Art Centre is the towns pride and joy and everyone would agree that it brings colour and life into the community. A living art Centre is exactly what Aurora needs. The only person complaining is Eveyln Buck and her small band of followers, who have obviously not had the pleasure of visiting and embracing all that the Centre has to offer this growing community. The Cenre has been accused of being a Culture Club, a place where the elite come, where the few that are a part of it are made to feel “important and necessary”. It is a place for EVERYONE, and yes, it is a place for people to feel important and necessary; the artisans, youth, seniors that thrive and grow through the Centre. I challenge Eveyln Buck to her opinions and the really reasons she’s jumped on this so called Elephant. It seems that Eveyln has a lot to say about eveything, is that because she’s an elected officical and feels it’s her responsibility, or is it just another political gain for her to feel “important and necessary”????

  2. Latheress said

    I noticed the full-colour, glossy brochure in the Auroran this week, and had a good look at the offerings. It looks like exactly the same programs that the town has always offered and used to be held in the library meeting rooms and at local schools.

    Guess that transferring these programs over to a new “cultural centre” DOES make somebody feel “important and necessary”!!

  3. Sophie said

    I know the Cultural Centre is popular, ever since it opened it has been almost impossible to get a space inside the Library parking lot. Often I am forced to park a block away and walk to the library and when I get there there is only a small handful of people inside. There needs to be a time limit on parking in the lower and upper lots and have someone chalking tires and writing warnings and/or tickets. I want my library back!

  4. WS said

    I didn’t see a mess when I was at Jackie Stuart’s Aurora heritage talk the other week and the room was full including heritage buffs John McIntyre, Bob McRoberts, and Ron Wallace.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was watching Alison Collin Mrakas show on the Auroran and she encouraged all Aurorans to go to the Dorothy Clark McClure show at the Cultural Centre and the place was buzzing when I went.
    I didn’t see a mess when Dave Heard and Chris Watts said to support the winter Farmers Market and head to the Cultural Centre. I saw rooms full of happy vendors and happy families, and we left with bags and bags of stuff and a belly full of favourite treats.
    I didn’t see a mess when the Auroran reported that a world-class pianist was performing a concert there. I heard amazing music in my own town and looked around at so many familiar faces including Leslie Oliver and Jackie Stewart and many other “old Aurorans”.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there at the Family Day activities and the Aurora Senior Centre was playing music for a room full of families and volunteers.
    I didn’t see a mess on Family Day when the historical society was there with some school artifacts and the King museum was there with facinating information of multi-cultural aspects of our local history for Black history month and everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there for a charity function that raised money for local food banks and the piano was played by a local fellow while we all ate amazing soup from 1/2 dozen local restaurants in bowls made by the Pine Tree potters. Thousands of dollars raised for the food bank.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there and purchased pottery at the Pine Tree Potters sale and remembered when they used to call the Church Street school their home.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there on my way back from the July 1st parade and the media was doing videos of the First Nations dancers and the crowd was clapping and cheering
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there for another charity function that raised money for a women’s shelter.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there for the Senior Centre art show and saw such a variety of talent from our town, and the nice volunteers were from the Seniors Centre and so proud to show their art in a professional gallery setting.
    I didn’t see a mess when I was there for a concert of a Juno nominated musician Greg Lawless who is Aurora born and bred, and the place was hopping and the CDs were selling.
    I didn’t see a mess when I went and cast my vote at the Cultural Centre polling station. I saw lots of neighbours who had never been in the building and were amazed by the place, and other neighbours that seemed to know the place inside and out from their family activities there.
    These are just the things I’ve done there that interest me and my family. Sure, there are things that happen there that don’t interest me, but one-size doesn’t fit all and I’m sure they are of interest to other people. For example, I don’t like Jazz, but my neighbours love the Sunday Jazz sessions there and its an economical family entertainment in town.
    Yes, I’m an old-timer and we live in the neighbourhood and going to the Cultural Centre has become a regular thing to do, just like going to the library, going to the concerts in the park, going to the restaurants, or the museum at Hillary House, or any of the multitude of things we expect to be able to do in our own town.
    And Elizabeth Bishenden, thanks for reminding me of the classes. I too just got the cultural centre newsletter with the spring class announcements. So many interesting subjects for a beginner like me, and I see that John McIntyre is doing some heritage lectures just like Jackie Stuart’s.
    More dates to circle on the calendar.

    • Anonymous said

      What does one have to do or be to receive the culture centre newsletter? I didn’t know there was one.

    • David Heard said

      Seeing my name was posted I must reply.

      I do support a museum at The Cultural Center.

    • Anonymous said

      The newletter can be found in various stores, libraries, hair salons, spas, senior centres etc in Aurora, Richmond Hill and Newmarket. It was also handed out at the Cineplex threates in both Aurora and Newmarket. Call the Aurora Cultural Centre (905 713 1818) to receive a copy.
      You can also receive e-blasts to keep you up to date on events (

    • David Heard said

      I guess I really should say at “The Church Street School Museum”.

    • Strange but it happens said

      Today I was at the Center and David Heard was set up in a little side room.
      I saw David packing up early.
      The Jazz Festival booth was in the main room of the Farmers Market.
      Do tell David….were you a bad boy?

  5. Disenchanted said

    Well, that being said, folks…..I believe this whole this is going in circles and nothing is being accomplished in this dilemma.
    It was a sad mistake in assuming the Museum would still be going strong in our newly funded “CULTURAL CENTRE” WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF COUNCIL. Obviously the former council under the “Regime” gave up, and handed over all responsiblities in the funding of our former Church Street School to a small un-elected group. (who may have had many wonderful ideas)
    We all know there was friction within the former council and our former Mayor allowed “others” to do whatever while she ignored her responsibilities as Mayor of the Town.
    Hopefully, we can combine the “cultural” with our historical artifacts. There is plenty room within the building to accommodate all. We need better “insight” from everyone involved as well as our new Council.

  6. Bonnie Kraft said

    Thank you for an excellent, thought-provoking invitation for discussion of this issue.

    There will always be those who value art and culture in society as enhancing our lives, and there will be those who don’t see much value in it. For some, sports is all-important, and there are others who sign their children up for music lessons, and they themselves take art classes and go to concerts. A well-rounded community must be able to have all of these options available.

    Throughout history, art and culture has rarely been able to pay for itself. Michaelangelo was supported by the church, Beethoven was supported by the aristocracy, and in the modern age, culture depends on government and corporate funding. Without support, there would be no culture.

    Is the Cultural Centre relevant to Aurora in its present form? An obvious way to partially answer this is to look at the number of people that have come through the doors, in only its first year of operation. In the first month of 2011 alone, 3,500 people visited the Centre. In its first year (2010), a total of 11,000 people attended events, programs, and activities. That speaks volumes about how the Cultural Centre is serving the community. Clearly, there is a large population craving what the Centre is offering.

    Many of the activities and programs at the Cultural Centre are heritage-based, including those which are specific to Aurora. Culture and heritage can and do exist side by side at the Centre. However, if a permanent, static museum is installed, it will severely limit the Centre’s ability to continue with the present level of programming. This is in part because its successful functioning depends on all of the spaces being able to be multi-purpose. Rather, rotating exhibits and theme-inspired displays of artifacts can be integrated into the Cultural Centre’s activities.

    The fact that an unelected group is governing the Centre does not make that group unaccountable. The Board is a conscientious group of volunteer citizens of Aurora, with no other agenda than to serve the community. They have expertise not only in arts, culture, and heritage, but in governance, non-profit organizations, business, and finance. Their various skill sets make them an ideal body to oversee the running of the Centre. As well, the staff and Board are constantly monitoring the response and feedback of the public to the programs offered, to understand how to shape the activities to best engage our community.

    In its first year, partnerships with dozens of local businesses, organizations, and charities have been formed. Also, the Centre has enhanced local tourism, as it has brought in people from outside of Aurora to many of its events. This is good for our local businesses.

    The Cultural Centre has only been going for one year. Judging by the numbers of returning visitors, the Centre is already a resounding success. It is a shame that, despite the overwhelming support of thousands of citizens who are truly appreciative that the Town is supporting the Centre, it is being tossed around like a political football, jeopardizing its future existence.

    There is a 5 year contract with the Town for the services that the Cultural Centre is providing. Why change something at this point that is working so well for the citizens of Aurora, and is reflecting so well on the Town? It should at least be given a chance to continue along this path for the duration of the contract.

    Thanks very much for this forum. It’s a great opportunity for our citizens to express their viewpoints.

    Bonnie Kraft

    • PArkview 7 said

      Now, that’s well-said! And worth much more than 2¢.

    • Stephanie said

      Ms. Kraft, I was one of those 11,000 people who visited the centre. That does not mean I was “served” or was “craving” what the centre has to offer, per your words. Frankly, I was actually disappointed by what I found there, but evidently the numbers are not interpreted to reflect my experience.

    • Local History Enthusiast said

      “Many of the activities and programs at the Cultural Centre are heritage-based, including those which are specific to Aurora. Culture and heritage can and do exist side by side at the Centre.”

      If stalwarts of the Aurora heritage community such as Jacqueline Stuart and John McIntyre are offering series of talks at the centre, then there’s an endorsement for the facility. If they’re keen to be involved, then that’s good enough for me!

    • Local History Enthusiast said

      Ms Kraft, thanks for providing details of the board. Some people seem to be objecting to it being at “arm’s length” from the Town. My understanding was that by setting it up as an independent, non-profit foundation that that allowed for increased opportunities for funding. I think it was a former Town treasurer or CAO who recommended that.

      The centre is able to apply for grants from all levels of government, as well as to accept donations and bequests. This means that they can issue tax receipts, correct? If it was run under the direct auspices of a town department there would be less funds available, I believe.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Bonnie Kraft my argument is that when the 2 million and 500 thousand was been lobbied for, the word Museum was used a that building is open all that is heard from within is there no room for it as it will hinder culture events ??? ,,No pun intended but volunteer boards can have their issues when they sit at arms length of those putting up most of funding funding, who has to step in if something was to go wrong? as a example recent issues with Toronto Housing, Lotto Ontario, Ontario Hydro and other issues popping up with not for profit groups on a on going bases, i hear lobbyists are asking for a government Minister to be appointed for these issues alone, so for the town council to have a wee say should not be looked on as a political football,yet a steadying hand or does the Town of Aurora still own the building ??..Yes i agree there is a need for outlets for all citizens,whether it be sports, culture , museums, gardening, trails,festivals , markets etc- its just that the museum seems to have been pushed out of the building that was to have been designed for it..I also have praise for the ones who cleverly succeeded in this endeavor,they did their home work and then some

    • Anonymous said

      John, I agree with you that there is a need for all citizens to experience the culture of their choice. I would suggest that virtually anything can be labelled culture – hockey, your neighbourhood bridge group, lawn bowling etc.
      I do feel the need to clarify that the museum was not pushed out of Church Street School. The Historical Society never intended for there to be a museum at the Church Street School. When they initially took on the project it was for a Heritage and Cultural Centre.
      As a society member at the time, I remember seeing the development plans and the expectation was to do different exhibits to enhance the building as a heritage and cultural centre. There was to be no museum at Church Street. The town already has a museum at Hillary House.
      I think the society has indicated that very same thing in the paper recently. They plan on continuing to display items at the Hillary House Museum, and other venues including the Aurora Cultural Centre at the Church Street School and travelling exhibits to other locations to publicize the Hillary House Museum as a National Historic Site.
      The society also reported that there is an ongoing display at Church Street, and that another Historical Society exhibit will be there in April.
      It seems to me that this is exactly what they intended when the society undertook the Church Street School project.
      As Evelyn Buck correctly points out, the society was not in a position to bring that project to fruition, but it appears that they are certainly deriving the benefits from the Town having done so.
      As noted on Evelyn’s blog, the society’s artifacts are stored at the Church Street School in climate controlled storage. All of this is done at the expense of the taxpayers, in addition to the $50K grant towards the curator’s salary.
      It would seem that the grant the Town already extends covers the cost to curate the collection housed at Church Street. Perhaps that is how it should be, and that Hillary House Museum be funded through the grants that should be available as a National Historic Site, and that the $50K continue to be provided to curate the items stored for free at Church Street.

    • Latheress said

      Count me out of your numbers, too. I went there, rolled my eyes and left, but I’m sure you’ve counted me in your “customers served” numbers!

  7. Diane said

    For our ever increasing taxes I think it would be more economical to see the museum and the cultural centre together. If it ever got to the point of bursting at the seams,then I would like to see the museum go to the old seniors centre or the old library. I believe that our elected representatives should be fully responsible for all tax dollars given to the Cultural Centre.

  8. Tracy Smith said

    The Aurora Cultural centre is a truly 21 century model for the arts and culture. Many small owns have museums which are visited by local residents once or twice but cultural centers like Aurora,s have repeat visits as the program changes week to week. The AHS, of which I am a member has an important role in our community and should be a significant partner at the cultural centre. The collection is housed there and there is plenty of opportunity for the AHS to mount shows and exhibits at Chruch Street.

    THe current debate is a tempest in tea pot — no one that I know of either at the cultural centre or at AHS is saying museum at Church Street — the vision is for the artifacts and other cultural programming to be at Chruch Street on an ad hoc basis but not a permanent museum set up. The building itself is fantastic and the AHS can take a great deal of credit in pride for their involevemtn in what we have in aurora. The vision for Church Street was articulated in the Novita report which is available on the Aurora web site — the model for the cultural centre is bold and innovative and frankly is the envy of the cultural community in Ontario — The Aurora Cultural cEntre has surpassed expectations as a fledgling centre — who could have imagined the variety of programming and events that have occurred so far — who would have thought that we could have Anton Kuerti as a guest pianist in the first year of operation.
    Aurora council should continue its support for the Aurora Cultural Centre as it has every chance of putting Aurora on the map in southern Ontario as a cultural hub — in the meantime the citizens of this fine town have very reason to be proud of that centre — at the same time the AHS every opportunity to mount exciting shows and exhibits at the centre

    • Stephanie said

      “Aurora council should continue its support for the Aurora Cultural Centre as it has every chance of putting Aurora on the map in southern Ontario as a cultural hub”.

      With all due respect, Ms. Smith, this made me laugh out loud.

      Seriously. Having lived in a good number of places across North America — and having travelled a bit — well, it’s pretty clear that Aurora has a lo-o-ong way to go before acquiring even a hint of becoming a “cultural hub”.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Stephanie your comment about Ms Smith post were not disrespectful,rather you were on the money..Many fine citizens of Aurora still and will always call this building The Church Street School,maybe no-one inside the now Cultural Center or the AHS mentions the word Permanent Museum any more yet there would probably have been no money for the building if they had not used the word (museum) when the beginnings of talks started-it has now turned into a pet peeve of a few and again not meaning any disrespect to them as long as there is none directed back to-ward the citizens who feel the culture group have overstepped their vision of what or what not should be in this Public Building-hey they even through in the farmers market for a couple Saturdays this winter(culture or lobbying???) We have a fine Seniors Center and Aurora Theater which could have benefited from the ex poser of a Farmers market or pianist Anton Kuerti -Bottom line Cultural Center yes but if the farmers market fits in here why not the museum also as it was in original plan, Novite report or not

    • F.Y.I. said

      “With all due respect, Ms. Smith”

      I think it’s actually MISTER Smith.

    • Anonymous said

      I think a lot of people get hung up on the concept of “culture”. They equate it with some nebulous, elitist, “airy fairy” artsy-fartsy-ness.

      If that fantastic building hosted the same myriad of events and activities that it’s doing now, and was called the Church Street School Community Centre or somesuch, there wouldn’t be near the amount of naysayers.

      Is it a form of reverse-snobbery?

    • Anonymous said

      Let’s stop kidding ourselves Aurora is not going to get on the cultural map.

    • Anonymous said

      “Let’s stop kidding ourselves Aurora is not going to get on the cultural map.”

      Is that even the point? Alright, having something that attracts out-of-town visitors is a bonus, for sure. But I’m more concerned about what is being offered to Aurorans IN Aurora. It’s great not having to leave our community for this large variety of events, as has been the case.

  9. Let me begin by saying that I have never been to the “Cultural Centre”. I am also of the belief that museums or cultural centres are not something that a Town should be funding at all. Higher levels of government have this covered and local groups do a fine job without municipal funds.

    In looking at the Cultural Centre’s “static” website I have to wonder what makes Aurora’s “culture” different than say Richmond Hill or Orillia or Toronto?

    Music and art shown or done in the Cultural Centre is not distinctive of Aurora. They run programs to “discover” Aurora’s history but they are focusing on pioneer or Victorian periods. Do those periods of time differ than other small communities that would be better detailed at places like Black Creek Pioneer Village?

    They are running a music program…

    There are four artists listed but none are from Aurora, they list music that was not written by someone from Aurora and they list reviews from US or UK-based sources. I am not saying that Auroran’s cannot appreciate culture from elsewhere, but how is this Aurora’s culture?

    If we want the TOWN of Aurora to invest in culture, I would expect it to be reflective of Aurora’s culture – whatever that may be. I don’t see that being the case with this current setup.

    Would we be better served by a museum? Some would argue that Hillary House is the museum, but it has a specific focus and it’s not “Aurora-focused”.

    If the Town is going to invest in Aurora’s culture/history, a museum in the Church Street School would be a better use of funds. Having said that, trotting out old clothing or dishes is not Aurora’s culture, it’s Canada’s culture. That’s fine too, but let’s not kid ourselves that Aurora’s history is any better (or worse) than any other community. We need to find a focus of what is distictive in the Town’s history as more and more residents have no historic ties to it.

    My $0.02.


    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Well put RTB at March 9.1238 P.M

    • Anonymous said

      Some thoughtful comments made here — I would invite you visit the centre and see for yourself the kind of programming that is occurring. WRT to Stephanie’s comments , I do not suggest that Aurora can be a Toronto or a Los Angeles or some of the other places in N America you may have lived in terms of cultural programming but rather providing cultural opportunities in one’s own community is important and a worthwhile endeavor in my view. I agree that Aurora has a long way to go but one must start somewhere with a vision

      A well rounded community has many facets to it — my kids played sports here in Aurora, attended the Hot Spot, participated at the high school in a wide range of activities but had no opportunity such as is provided by the Aurora Cultural Centre — why should the citizens of Aurora have to go to Richmond Hill or Orillia for the cultural programming supported by those municipalities? And not to put too fine a point on it, but Shakespeare is not from Stratford Ontario but is still enjoyed by thousands each year in that city.

    • Latheress said

      I *have* visited the centre and agree with the others here that our tax dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

      Surely, now the folks involved with the cultural centre and museum will rally their friends and cousins here to loudly defend its honour, but the truth is, Aurora has more urgent needs for funding.

    • Anonymous said

      RtB, try thinking of it in terms of culture IN Aurora rather than culture OF Aurora. And do yourself a favour and visit the place and acquaint yourself with what is actually going on there. You may find something of interest to you or a member of your family.

    • Mariposa said

      It’s interesting that Orillia is mentioned. Apparently, that city has an old, disused school building in their historic core that they want to renovate and convert for community use. Looking for ideas, a delegation from Orillia visited Church St School and our fledgling cultural centre.

      They came away very impressed by what we have and what’s being offered there. They were reportedly “blown away,” and commended Aurora. They plan a return visit with a larger group, as our cultural centre is a model they want to emulate.

      It’s high praise when outsiders appreciate, understand and envy what we have. It’s a pity some of our fellow Aurorans don’t.

    • One who Knows said

      I hate to admit it but this has got to be one of the most logical posts that has come from the great RTB, Now, as far as the post from anon 12:46 , after having personally set foot in the building on several occasions its dammed hard to find anything of interest, unless its counting cracks in the hardwood floors , you could shoot a cannon off in the place and never hit a thing !!

    • Pearls Before Swine said

      One Who Knows (sic), the old saying about leading a horse to water somehow comes to mind.

    • To: One who Knows…. I am blushing. Must be the new medications that I am on.

      To: Anonymous at 12:46….

      If I think of culture IN Aurora as you suggest, I am left with the Canadian multi-cultural landscape that we have embraced. On my street alone we have people of Iranian, Greek, Asian, English, Scottish and Egyptian extraction. Does the Cultural Centre represent all of these cultures as “Culture IN Aurora”? I would hazard a guess that the bulk of the “culture” at the Centre is very WASP. Even if the Centre does represent those named cultures (plus all of the others that live in the Town), I do not want my municipal tax dollars being used to support something that is funded through both Federal and Provincial ministries.


    • Anonymous said

      Hey Mariosa,

      Of course they were impressed – it’s easy to impress somebody with squandered money.

    • Mariposa said

      Hey Anonmous (I’ll trade you a ‘y’ for a ‘p’),

      One person’s “squandered” is thousands of other persons’ “well-spent”.

    • Anonymous said

      Okay, RtB, let’s review: you’ve admittedly never set foot in the place; have some narrow notion of “culture”; and now are ‘guessing’ about what actually happens there – and which ethnocentric emphasis those events and activities may have. Have I got it about right?

      ‘Hazard’ would seem to be the operative word. Thanks for comin’ out…

    • To Anonymous at 2:24 3/11

      Oh, you caught me…

      No I have never set foot in there. From the postings here, I don’t think I am missing much. My “guessing” is based on the “wonderful?” website that is linked from the Town and provided by someone here. So, reading through the list…. I don’t see anything that would be outside of the typical WASP expereince. Is this representative of the Culture IN Aurora? If it is, then my neighbourhood must be the exception. I was told to think of it as Culture IN Aurora…. I am just doing what I am told.

      And by the way, how do I have a narrow notion of culture? That’s the problem with those that are all “airy-fairy” about culture. Either you agree with them about what culture is or you are considered some sort of cultural luddite. What gives you the right to tell me what culture is?

      I would be interested to hear what events occured there this week for International Women’s Day. It is on the list. Tell me what “cultural” events the women in my life missed?


    • Stephanie said

      Latheress called it. The sock puppets have arrived. No use trying to have any further discussion.

  10. Stephanie said

    I am very much against my taxes paying for the cultural centre in its current form, and I am also against an unelected board spending my money for such a thing.

    This will not be a popular stance, but personally, I have been disappointed in the cultural centre. I believe it exists only to allow a small select group of people feel important and necessary. I don’t feel it offers me or my family any benefit.

    Neither am I much of a fan of a community museum here — although I suspect that, if I had to choose between a museum and a cultural centre, the museum would be of more use / interest to locals. In truth, I simply don’t see that we have anything unique to offer — certainly nothing that will “draw crowds” from the well-run Pioneer villages and historical attractions.

    At most, I could see myself nodding in agreement with Jytte Gillies, with the two groups sharing a space and the funds being overseen by council, but the truth is that if the cultural centre and museum disappeared tonight, my life would not be affected (other than a lightening of the tax dollar drain).

    That’s my two cents.

    • From one unpopular stance to another... said

      Hear! Hear! I agree with you 100%. It’s about time we listen to the “unpopular stance” because, personally, I am sick of hearing about the “miraculous wonders of the cultural centre” from “the small select group of people who need to feel important and necessary.”

    • Anonymous said

      “I believe it exists only to allow a small select group of people feel important and necessary.”

      Which small group? I’d daresay that in the last year, more people have been through the doors of that fine building since its days as a school decades ago.

      As for “select,” do you consider a large cross-section of our community to be “select”? From children to senior citizens (and those in-between) enjoying music, arts, heritage and more sounds rather inclusive and encompassing to me.

      It’s a shame, Stephanie, that you and your family haven’t benefited from such a town treasure … yet.

    • Tracy Smith said

      Stepanie – an interesting perspective — communities are about the varying interests of all citizens — one could say I’m not a senior so why should we have a seniors centre, I don,t play soccer so why have all the soccer pitches or ice rinks or parks or trails — Don’t read — no library, don’t drive so why plow the streets, don’t have children so why pay school tax and the list goes on — In my view it’s not whether your life would be affected but rather the shared life of our community — just another perspective TS

    • Stephanie said

      “ I’m not a senior so why should we have a seniors centre”
      “ I don,t play soccer so why have all the soccer pitches or ice rinks or parks or trails”
      “ Don’t read — no library”

      Interesting interpretation of my words, Tracy Smith — as I do not wish to support your cultural centre, I must not have any culture?!?


  11. veritas said

    I do not know whether admission or user fees are charged at the Church Street school, or at the museum, when we had one. However, I do know that we live in an era where user fees will have to be the way of the future whether we like it or not.

    I have worked in healthcare for more than 20 years and have seen the system gradually deteriorate. There have been attempts to “cut fat” but we live in a society that demands more and more but are unwilling to pay for it. I think healthcare is a good example of what ails us.
    There is not a bottomless well of public money to shell out for our wants; hell, there is barely enough to cover our needs.

    We have needs that are essential for a healthy lifestyle: clean, safe water,timely removal and disposal of garbage, safe roads and neighbourhoods, protection against crime, emergency services, the list goes on.

    We also have wants, the “nice to haves”: cultural centres, museums, an arboretum, music festivals etc. These too contribute to lifestyle. However, they are not essential. I believe that non-essentials should be subject to a business model that raises revenue by whatever means necessary whether it be admission charges, program/even fees, fundrasing events etc. I believe that these niceties have to operated like a business and quit standing with hands outstretched to the regular Joe Blow in the street whose pockets have been stretched so deep that they are dragging on the ground. I believe that revenue demands and a budget process with a vested interest should help to induce responsibility and accountability. It is far easier to manage and spend someone else’s money that your own. If your business fails, do what the rest of the world does: make difficult financial desisions, operate differently to turn it around….. or close your doors.

    The problem with public funding is lack of incentive to be financially responsible and accountable. We can no longer afford that model. This council needs to take a long hard look at the needs and wants columns and make some tough decisions for all our futures and remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time so quit trying!

    • veritas said

      In retrospect I am not sure if this was the appropriate post to leave my comments. While both entities may be of value to the community, I am tired of money being handed over to either (or those like them)without a fiscally responsible and accountable plan to wean them off endless handouts.

  12. Jytte K Gillies said

    I would like to see the Museum and the Culture Centre sharing the space at the Church Street old School. With a little good-will from both side there should be enough room for both of them, and it could be a busy and lovely place to visit. I also think that the Council should be in charge of the funding and what the money it spended on.

    Is it possible to share the space? what do you think?

    • Evelyn Buck said

      The space was shared with the museum for forty years. The building came to be known as the Heritage and Culture Centre.
      The funds made available from the Hydro Reserve and the design for re-use of the facility was for a state of the art museum.
      The intention always was it would be shared with cultural events. Mormac and their minions changed that so now there is complete confusion about what was intended.
      The Historical Society under Helen Roberts presidency must take some responsibility for that.
      They withdrew their commitment to manage the facility mid-stream soon after funds were committed to complete the renovations.
      That opened the door for sly, sneaky, underhanded changes to the plan.
      The Board is appointed with terms of reference from the town.
      Now somebody has to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess.
      I think it has to be the body that created it in the first place.The Council. And thank goodness, it looks like the new council have understood the problem is critical.

    • Diane said

      I totally agree with Mrs. Buck…..

    • Stan Jefferson said

      A “mess,” Cllr Buck? I don’t see a mess. I see an architectural gem fulfilling a good and popular purpose.

      Any perceived controversy surrounding the building and its present function would be mostly of your creation, wouldn’t it?

      As you’re wont to paraphrase; Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

    • Anonymous said

      “That opened the door for sly, sneaky, underhanded changes to the plan.”

      I think that is the nub of your opposition to the cultural centre, isn’t it, Councillor Buck? It seems less about what’s actually happening at Church St. School, and more about some notion of a nefarious plot of the MorMac faction to hijack the place.

      This dog-with-a-bone approach strikes one as another measure in the post-election “de-Stalinization” of any Morrisite connections. (Yes, I was pleased with those results – with a couple of exceptions).

      Rather than point the finger of blame at the abdication of responsibility for the project by the AHS, or the subsequent revision in the terms of reference, I’d like to draw a line under it. Will conducting an inquest negate the benefits of the building and what it is offering the community now? Let’s enjoy that here & now and anticipate the future with enthusiasm.

    • Jack said

      Evelyn, I’m surprised to see you giving misleading information.
      The museum was not at Church street for forty years. More like twenty, and it was one of many, many user groups sharing the building. The user groups were parked there because the town didn’t know what else to do with the school so they gave it over to some groups and promptly ignored the building. I don’t remember there being any real rent from any of them, and the building was left to go to rack and ruin. The town did that all by itself, so why shouldn’t the town step up and provide some funds to restore the building they neglected for so long? Had they done proper maintenance in the first place there might not have been so much required. Weren’t you on council back then when it was being left to rot?
      It has become another great community place just like the library, senior centre, Stronach rec centre, leisure complex, community centre, parks, trails, etc. Its another amenity that residents expect and deserve.

    • pat said

      Evelyn, It seems the real source of your discontent is the involvement of the dastardly MorMacs. I’ll admit that I’m first in line to hang anything on them, but I’m not giving them any credit for the restoration of the school. The feds and the province chipped in funds because the restoration and project had merit.
      I closely followed this project, and while there was the odd annoyance with a few people for whom I’m not a fan, the end result is a credit to the Town and its citizens.
      I don’t get why you think the centre “is a mess”. What mess? They have to report financials to the Town on a regular basis, so Mr. Garbe and Mr. Elliot should be very familiar with how our tax dollars are being spent. I trust our senior officials are in the loop. Oh yeah, I just remembered that you’re not a fan of Mr. Garbe’s either.
      It was the Town staff that developed the agreement.
      Someone on this blog has already mentioned that the reason it was set-up as a non-profit organization was for the benefit of the Town to be able to receive grants and funding, and tax-deductable donations for fund-raising.
      I remember at the time thinking how clever of Town staff, and the research they did to determine the funding formulas. Professional town staff did that, not Mor or Mac or the others that I’m fast forgetting about with much relief.
      It’s good to have you on council as a watch-dog, but this time I feel your barking up the wrong tree.

  13. Anonymous said

    In the past I’ve been critical of the way you’ve presented issues as I found them to be usually one-sided.

    I’d like to congratulate you on this one. You’ve laid out the issue by presenting the various sides without comment. I think the overall tone might be more civil here if this was the norm rather than the exception.

    • Guy L. Poppe said


    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      But, what do you have to say about the material in the post?

      Cultural Centre? Museum? Money? Your tax dollars?

      Councillors do read this blog. Say it like it is. The Mayor has been known to comment. Let him know how you feel in your pocketbook about this question.

      Personally, I am conflicted. I see the pile of old harness and horsehair stuffed chesterfields in the basement of the Church Street School, and I think I’ve seen it all before at Pioneer villages. But I’ve also been to some well-curated community museums and learned about layers I didn’t at first glance.

      Meanwhile, over at the Cultural Centre, I can’t decide between the guitar circle for beginners with David Partridge and the writing group lead by Clare Bolton as a great spring activity to give me a good challenge and help me on my path of life-long-learning.

      None of these things could come to me because of my own actions. It takes a community that invests in itself. What do we want to invest in?

      I don’t know the answer.

      Convince me.

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