Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Aurora Cultural Centre

Posted by auroracitizen on March 30, 2012

The discussions surrounding the Aurora Cultural Centre (ACC) have been ongoing since Jan 2011, but recently heated up when Councillors Abel and Pirri tabled a motion to terminate the existing agreement with the intention to get a new agreement in place before the start of the 2013 budget year.

This raised considerable debate between fellow Councillors, members of the ACC Board and members of the public. This resulted in a raucous meeting Feb 28, when a large number of ACC supporters arrived at Town Hall in defence of the Centre.

A number of articles have been published in the Era Banner covering these activities.

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1306140–cultural-centre-contract-vote-tonight

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1307550–update-cultural-centre-compromise

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1321906–town-cultural-centre-close-to-agreement

The Auroran has also provided coverage in their latest 2 editions.

There was even a Rogers TV program on the topic; http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=70&sid=4011&gid=92671

Last Tuesday night (March 27), the second significant meeting took place and again Councillors were unable to find common ground.

The full tape of the discussion can be seen on the Rogers TV website starting at 2:39:30

In fact, Councillor Gaertner even left the meeting — refusing to vote on the matter — and Councillor Ballard offered some less than flattering comments towards the Mayor, which Mayor Dawe refused to respond to. This interchange can be seen as part of the Council meeting taping  at 3:53:00 of the tape.

Overall the situation is a mess and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of. Accusations of inappropriate closed door meetings, bullying, non-compliance with the Municipal Act.

Bottom line; Leadership is lacking — Collaboration is lacking — and Aurora taxpayers are still not seeing accountability and transparency on this issue — and we can only “hope” that a new agreement will be in place for the 2013 budget year.

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15 Responses to “Aurora Cultural Centre”

  1. Anonymous said

    Why let this nastiness fester until the next election? If Mayor Dawe is so certain that he is correct, he should welcome an old-fashioned plebiscite to confirm his belief. Only Aurora residents would be eligible to cast a vote. We might need to spend the cost of that to save hundred of thousands of dollars in the years to come. Why not?

  2. Oz said

    In the Auroran, the ACC thanks Mayor Dawe. Well, they should. They brought nothing to the table and took it home with them. Truly from Oz.

  3. Sprite said

    Where Geoff Dawe and I parted ways was after he with-held information from Councillors Abel and Pirri and allowed them to be targeted by that venomous e-mail flood inspired by councillor Ballard and the ACC. He further doomed himself at the Council meeting at which he executed a devious flip-flop and hung Councillors Abel, Buck and Pirri out to dry before a hostile crowd. Those are not the actions of a negotiator or team player.

    The man has plenty of time for multiple unnecessary ‘ negotiations ‘ with a small rogue group, but can’t find an opportunity to deal with the unrest among the very people who voted him into office. Maybe he simply has nothing to say to us ?

  4. Ad Guy said

    If you don’t have the patent or own the product, all the public relations in the world will not help. The ACC does not own Aurora culture; nor own the building; not are they entitled to the funding. Ads on the highways and in the papers are a waste of money – oh, yeah, our money,., our building, our funding.

  5. Tim the Enchanter said

    It’s sad to see council have so much difficulty with this issue.
    What an opportunity for them to prove that the polarizing and devisive games of playing favourites to special interest groups were done with.
    Somewhere around $500K of taxpayer money goes out the door to a private organization without accountability.
    This deal was so obviously unacceptable, so blatant in it’s disregard of the taxpayer, so unashamedly skewed in favour of a single group as to bring the meaning of “having friends on council” to a whole new level.

    Of course Clr Buck was never fooled. And Clrs Abel and Pirri caught on quickly.
    And the others?
    Inexperience? Lack of confidence? Lack of interest? Lack of direction?

    But why?

    The solution is quite simple really.
    The agreement should be torn up and a new one written.
    Yes – written.
    Not negotiated.
    The taxpayers do not negotiate the terms of accountability when asked to be an investor in a private enterprises.
    Please don’t confuse the issue with this “registered non-profit” blarney – this is a money-making business partially financed by taxpayers.
    We want to know what our cut is.
    And please make that in cold cash – the ACC employees and volunteers can bask in the warm joy of the culture.
    We own the building – we set the terms – the ACC either accepts the terms or rejects them.
    These policies should be in place for any agreement the town enters int to – not just the ACC.

    And before we prematurely mourn the “death” of culture in Aurora let’s remember.

    There is no motion on the table to close the cultural centre.
    There is no motion on the floor to discontinue funding for the cultural centre.
    Council is not being asked to declare Aurora a CULTURE-FREE ZONE.
    We simply want our money accounted for.
    When profits are involved – w want a reasonable return on investment.

    And the opposition “argument”?

    “But the previous council promised”
    Sorry – you might have pulled a fast one on them – but there’s no reason, legal, moral or financial to perpetuate the mistake.
    “But the ACC has good programs, many people enjoy the events”
    So what if they do? What does that have to do with public financial accountability?
    “Aurora deserves a cultural centre”
    So what if it does?

    Why in heaven’s name does this continued blatant mis-representation of the issue succeed in stunning our council into a state of indecisive bewilderment?
    Why is council time allowed to be wasted by “testimonials” and sophomoric posturing that have nothing to do with the business at hand.

    Please Mayor Dawe.
    I implore you.
    Stop stalling. Stop the chattering. These are not international peace negotiations. It is not necessary that both sides agree.
    Let’s get council and staff busy drawing up a new agreement that includes the compliance terms necessary for open and honest public accountability.
    If the ACC doesn’t like the terms they don’t have to sign it in which case council can meet to discuss the future use of the Church St. School property.

    • Anonymous said

      “It is not necessary that both sides agree.”

      I thought the last election was to rid the Town of an autocratic ruling faction? And to think that some up-is-down commenters accuse Cultural Centre supporters of being “bullies”. Ha!

      No, thank you, I’ll take the reasoned, co-operative approach of Mayor Dawe and the non-strident members of council.

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      Anonymous 2:57

      Again – in my opinion – a muddying of the waters.

      Look at it this way – parents give their kid several thousand dollars to go to university.
      The following year the kid asks for more money.
      The parents ask for an account of what happened to money already received.
      You think the kid gets to just say ” I spent it “?
      We can argue later about how wisely the money was spent but you will tell me how you spent it.

      And correcting a flawed agreement in a timely fashion is not autocratic – it’s good governance.

      And it’s not “bullying” – it’s called “He who pays the piper calls the tune”.

    • Legally binding said

      There is a legally binding agreement now existing between the two parties.

      As in all agreements there is a provision that permits termination prior to expiry.

      This does not create a class of bullies and another of victims. The writer protests too much and without justification.

      The notice to terminate was the now much maligned motion that Councillors Abel and Pirri presented to Council February 28.

      If what followed was reasoned, co-operative leadership and non-strident members of council, I shudder to think what unreasonable, strident people would look and sound like.

  6. Oz said

    Watched the tapes; read the articles. Aurora Council decides to support ACC squatters who likely never voted for them over taxpaying residents who went to the polls. Truly From Oz.

  7. jd said

    I applaud councillors Abel and Pirri for bringing the centre’s agreement to the forefront for scrutiny and review. However, I am, quite frankly sick of the cultural centre and have been ever since its creation. It has been nothing but a showcase for an elite little group of town residents who seem to have nothing else to do. I resent that my taxes have gone towards supporting this white elephant. Instead of funnelling thousands of dollars into that, I would rather see my taxes go into infrastructure and enhancing essential services. Let the wealthy little group that likes to run the centre fund it themselves or turn it into a self-sustaining business so that taxpayers can be paid back the public money that has already gone into it.

  8. My two cents worth said

    Culture is synonymous with civilization, with society. It encompasses everything we do, everything we are, from architecture to philosophy, from education to cooking. Culture is being used in Aurora in recent times in a fairly narrow context, in connection more with the arts, i.e. painting, sculpture, music, and performance media such as plays.

    The arts have generally had patrons to support individual artists, composers, etc. and governments at all levels have subsidized the arts because they are deemed to be of a positive and important nature to our citizenry. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact it is desirable.

    But what is currently transpiring in Aurora is, to state in its kindest terms, sheer insanity. A bad agreement was executed in 2009 when the Town was without competent legal personnel, and the Town has continued to honour this bad agreement. What was being proposed by Councillors Abel and Pirri was a necessary step to right the bad agreement and bring it into line with one that clarifies and spells out certain specific terms that are unacceptable to the present day legal opinion of our Town Solicitor, as drafted by him in a report dated December 6, 2011.

    This has set off a hailstorm of outrage and indignation from the Centre and its active supporters, many apparently from outside our boundaries. This was demonstrated at the Council meeting of February 28. The decision by Council at that meeting was outrageous and I was indignant because of it. Since then there has been a series of five meeting held between representatives of the Town and the Centre that resulted in Council Report No. CAO12-006 dated March 27 calling for the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of representatives from both the Town and the Centre. The stated purpose of the report is to “provide Council with the Terms of Reference for an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a new Cultural Services Purchase Agreement.” The purpose is not to negotiate a new agreement but to negotiate Terms of Reference. To this four-page report is attached six pages of Terms of Reference.

    The last of these, item 6.3 states: “All Ad Hoc Committee meetings and minutes shall be private and confidential.” It has been proposed that two Councillors sit on this Ad Hoc Committee as representing the Town. If that is the case, and if the meetings and minutes are to be “private and confidential” then in practice the other seven members of Council will not be allowed to hear or see what discussions have taken place. This is certainly more than bizarre. It is more than likely that any committee on which elected officials serve can not be a “closed session” under the Municipal Act as the Act is quite clear what subjects can properly be dealt with in “closed session.” These are generally related to land transactions in which a municipality might be involved, and matters of a personal nature involving staff or elected officials.

    From my perspective the Ad Hoc Committee should be done away with, the Town should give notice to the Centre of its plan to amend the existing agreement in accordance with the December 6 report from the Town Solicitor, and further funding will occur as and when the Centre provides satisfactory information relating to its financial operation to the Town, who is a very generous patron.

    • Anonymous said

      “… to state in its kindest terms, sheer insanity”

      What its harshest terms?!?

      As for your last paragraph, you’ve yet to have your coronation, so your Wish List won’t be happening.

    • Anonymouse said

      Coronations take place at every meeting of Council. It’s just a question of who gets to wear the crown. On occasion it would be more befitting to wear a dunce cap.

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