Your 11th Councilor by Jamie Gilcig – Outside Agency Funding – Let’s Stop the Bleeding

jg2CORNWALL Ontario –  Thank you for the response to our 11th Councilor column.   It’s been impressive and your feedback has been helpful and amazing.

The biggest issue since we started was the  waste spending on outside agencies here in Cornwall.

It’s that time of the year when outside agencies come hat in hand asking taxpayers for money.   It being an election year some of the softer weaker councilors are thumping to suck dollars into these agencies like a tick on a poodle.

Surely there are some good causes out there; but do they deserve public dollars?    Is there an onus for these groups to be structurally sound and fundamentally worthy of our money?

I say yes.  After all why invest in an entity that is either unsustainable or incapable of running its own affairs?

An example would be Minor league football here in Cornwall.   A few years ago they came to council with a bag of money and a list of accomplishments.   Their presentation was impressive and they clearly were worthy of public support.   Then you have TAG or whatever our Art Gallery is calling itself.  TAG basically is an art gallery.   There is nothing really worthy of giving TAG any dollars than any other Art Gallery except that Cornwall doesn’t have a lot of them; perhaps because they can’t compete with a publicly funded one.

TAG was closed for most or all of the Month of July, that month being the largest month of our humble tourism season with all of our nearby festivals.     Does that make any sense to you?  It sure as heck doesn’t to me.    If you talk to artists there’s an immense amount of complaining about TAG as well.

It seems the only group that wants TAG is Elaine MacDonald and her NDP groupies who fulfill some of the board seats including Carilyne Hebert who also is running for council.   I mean my cat leaves more artistic creations in his litter box than Ms MacDonald has ever been party too.  The question is what are her motives in agenda when it comes to her participation in this hot mess and the bigger failure that is the local Arts council that literally has done nothing in nearly two years other than get a grant to keep Bruce Davis employed.   Have they had a single event or done anything noteworthy?  Have they raised funds of any substantial amount?  How much has that exercise cost taxpayers at different levels?

TAG also has dumped Apples and Art  which was pretty much the only minor and humble success it had.

Does TAG deserve a penny of our money?  Nope.      Not a red penny.

Aultsville Theatre.    The City of Cornwall spends nearly $100K per year essentially supporting the auditorium of St. Lawrence College.    The group is not sustainable with the cost of space rental daunting for most promoters.  Likewise most of the events there are far from sellouts and ticket prices beyond what the average Cornwallite can afford.

Is this a wise investment of our dollars?   It’s insane.  Some have pointed out the only reason this occurred was because our former CAO, Paul Fitzpatrick was on the college board.

I say take that money and use 1/3 on creating a funding unit for the arts community and the balance into a fund to eventually build or purchase our own Arts Centre.       But spending money on Aultsville theatre is a total waste of public funds and actually hurts other venues like The Port Theatre which is struggling and gets no funding from the city.

The Woodhouse Museum.    We spend an awful lot of money on a museum that’s only open a few days and hasn’t even gone digital.

The Museum is asking for $114,108 this year.     Again, what do taxpayers get?   I think we should have museums; but I think there has to be value for tax dollars.   The structure of this organization is not terribly open and it doesn’t seem to ever improve from year to year.     How many fund raising events do you see for them?   How much revenue do they pull in and how much do they pay curator Ian Bowering?   It might be time for some new blood and life with a slant to modernizing the museum and making it more user friendly?    Should we give the museum money; probably.   This much?  Not without a better reason than the cost of heating.

Seaway Valley Tourism.     This agency has failed and failed again to give value.  It’s mostly a cliquey place that has almost no business focus.   Promoting friends and the same old same old and spending public dollars without accountability.   They also have or had a lawsuit with a former staffer.    Again bang for the buck and frankly the current make up of this organization under Linda Wilson doesn’t cut the mustard or earn its dollars.

Tourism is huge and needs attention and support, but when it comes to public monies there has to be accountability and frankly this group does not work in a professional manner with public funds.    It needs to either improve or see its funding cut or removed.

Frankly it makes little to no sense to increase taxes while funding many of these agencies who simply rely on their yearly stipend rather than fulfill what it is they state they are here for.

If an art gallery isn’t supported by the public should we pay their freight?

Habitat for Humanity is looking for land.    That I can support in full.   CHOD radio; sorry but does anyone even listen to CHOD that the city should be kicking in as much as they ask for?   Senior Citizen Club, not sure about the full amount of their requests, but this city does such a poor job of offering activities for Seniors or Young people that I think they deserve support.

Centre Charles-Emile Claude and Centre Culturel de Cornwall.    Hey I get it.  There is a large proud and wonderful French culture in Cornwall.   Do we give out $75K to an English group; or Scottish one, or First Nations?   Do these groups offer value for tax dollars or is this simply council better give them money or lose political support?   Is there any irony seeing the amount of the request for these two groups being about the same as TAG?     Maybe we don’t give any of the three to be fair and save taxpayers $150K?

The city is also asked to give a lot of in kind support to events like Ribfest, Lift Off, Winterfest and many other fests.    Again, what criteria should there be and why isn’t that criteria the same for all events instead of just those with links to Bob Peters and Denis Thibault?

Some of these groups act like private fiefdoms; but it’s hypocritical to behave that way when spending my and your tax dollars.   Do it on their own dimes if they want to be unprofessional and unaccountable please!

What do you dear viewers of CFN think?  Should 1% of your taxes go into these groups?  Are you getting value for your money?

You can post your comments below.

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 River Kings


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