Some Thoughts on Art & Taxes in Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Gilcig – April 3, 2015

jg2CFN – What a busy week.   Congratulations first off to YAC.  City Council decided to give the group nearly $1,000 cash per member for this year.      That gives hope for the arts community as TAG has nearly 200 members.  Could a big cheque be on the way to the city’s public gallery soon?

Yes, I jest.  The farce that was the funding circus this year has been mystifying from CAG giving council a passing grade for raising taxes a Kilgeresque +2 % points.

Some said it’s only $50 per home, but frankly $50 per year times 4 years compounded adds up to more of those that can afford it moving out to South Stormont and South Glengarry like so many of the movers and shakers of this community.

The tipping point isn’t as some councilors suggesting our fire, police, and ems services, but the cash drain to the counties.  Those people simply laugh at how we in Cornwall essentially subsidize their lifestyles.   Think about this for a moment.  Our very well paid police chief while stumping for higher budgets as crime numbers decline lives in Glen Walter which is policed by the OPP which clearly has a lower cost per door than the CCPS.

If one was to amalgamate Long Sault, Glen Walter, St. Andrews, and a few points in between our numbers would look dramatically different.

As for our public gallery?   Well one insider suggested to this writer that there were three councilors acting like high school delinquents fighting for zero funding for the gallery because yours truly is on the board.  (that’s disclosure for a certain party that insists I make a full disclosure in any story I write about the arts although this is certainly not on behalf of the board or gallery) There were a few elected officials that are honest in that they don’t give a boot about the arts, and the few that wanted to make some sense out of this mess simply didn’t want to stick their neck out and not win a vote.

One councilor off the record stated that they didn’t want tax payers to pay any possible costs related to the termination of TAG’s ED.    It was pointed out that perhaps tax payers should not remit their taxes in that case because of the payouts given to Robert Menagh, Donna Derouchie, and Paul Fitzpatrick or the fact that the city has to date spent more on legal costs on the t shirt lawsuit than the offer to settle.

But this is Cornwall in all of its weirdness.   Pettiness, ignorance, hate, cowardice.   The good news is that a lot of people are seeing through this and even better news is that art will triumph mayhem as the gallery is now getting a lot of private support because at the end of the day it’s the city’s only true Arts and Culture asset and for over 30 years has been the place to be shown regionally if you’re an artist.

Hopefully that continues in Cornwall for another 30 years.

Imagine all that talk about cutting taxes and all that seems to be cut essentially was the public gallery.   That certainly is a statement that differs with the city’s own Strategic Plan survey.  And it wasn’t just cut.  It went to zero additional financing.   That seems quite the statement.   Speaking of statements;

The document, published on the city’s website is dated from 2013, makes multiple mentions of the value of Arts and Culture for a community.

A greener, richer community with lots of trees, more walking paths, cleaner roads (less litter), a University, and resources to help residents clean up their homes (in terms of state of repair). More unique, shopping retail outlets, a better art gallery and water activity development. An innovative City that is not afraid to do things a little differently.

A destination for tourists and young families looking to experience a city that has embraced, supported, and promoted its arts and cultural sector. Our town should be a place people want to visit because of all that it can offer, culturally, artistically, and recreational.

Strengthening the Arts and Culture sector in the cityAccess to Arts, Culture, Heritage and RecreationThese things are not fluff. Report after report shows they increase community involvement, build a sense of identity and pride, and they generate money for the city directly and indirectly (every dollar spent on the arts generates 7 dollars)

Promote economic development and job creation where the City works for good paying jobs in the new green economy, high tech jobs, the decentralization of provincial and federal government jobs to Cornwall and a university for Cornwall. We can also promote tourism by strongly supporting arts and culture, heritage preservation, community festivals, and the preservation of the City’s downtown waterfront parkland for the enjoyment of the people of our community and visitors.

Bring taxes inline. The fire department are over paid. They do not require the same wages as larger cities far more dangerous as far higher buildings. Also the cost of living is much less. They should be required to either live in the city or get paid less as they are not contributing to the tax base.The Police department needs to bring their expenses down as the police board are just figure heads that approve the budget without questioning anything. Why are we paying $250,000 per year for HR (wages and benefits) on top of the City of Cornwall HR especially with the police hiring record.

Dedication to enhancing quality of life for all residents by having a balance of recreational activities; open spaces; arts, cultural and entertainment activities; youth and senior programs and increased accessibility for persons with disabilities.

There is a need to continue in improving the infrastructure for the arts community.It is an area of minimum funding but it would be very important to be a lead with the Arts Advisory Committee in pushing for future development.

Of course it will take the public to put pressure on our elected officials, and actually vote the right ones in.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.

Disclaimer:  This writer is on the board of TAG Cornwall and is not writing on behalf of the board or the organization.    He also is a member of CAG even though they won’t provide any information to CFN.


  1. Admin said “Some said it’s only $50 per home, but frankly $50 per year times 4 years compounded adds up to more of those that can afford it moving out to South Stormont and South Glengarry like so many of the movers and shakers of this community.”

    Your compounded theory is only understandable if the tax hikes in the next three years are 2% or greater. As for people living outside the city I have no issue with it. Why should city employees / administrators be told they have to live in the city? Perhaps they couldn’t find what they wanted in the city. If I was a city employee / administrator and was told that I had to live in the city and / or have my salary cut I would politely tell them to take a long walk off a short pier.

    Funding circus? I think they did quite well this year dealing with outside agencies / organizations. They were smart to put a cap on the funding. I know if I had been on the budget committee I would have pushed for some outside agencies / organizations to have their funding cut completely. Some outside agencies / organizations use this city funding as a major source of income, which eliminates their need to fund raise, which is wrong. If you cut or eliminate their funding it forces them to get creative on how to fund their group.

    I agree part of the problem is the cash drain to the counties. It’s time all these funding arrangements are re-negotiated. If the various counties were told Cornwall is capping their funding to joint Cornwall / counties organizations / facilities, etc. I think the counties would realize what a good deal they have now.

    Amalgamation being brought up again? It has never worked as it should in Ontario. Would this attempt be any different? I seriously doubt it. Costs would probably go up, as they have in most previous cases.

    I have no problem funding TAG at its previous levels. But it has to demonstrate that it has its act in order. The previous versions of TAG would show up at budget time unprepared. Yes, they were prepared this year. But we need to make sure there isn’t a mass turnover in directors yet again before they can declare being a success.

    Admin said “Imagine all that talk about cutting taxes and all that seems to be cut essentially was the public gallery.” Last time I checked the city funding cut for TAG did not account for the tax hike going from a proposed 5.58% to 2.4%. For sure there were other cuts or projects not approved.

  2. Jamie I sound like a broken record but if Cornwall amalgamated with its surrounding municipalities it would have a larger population and tax base to boost the town. You take Moncton N.B. they amalgamated with their surrounding towns and they have a wonderful arts centre and celebrities go there as well. Hugger keeps saying that it takes time well it has to come soon or else it will never come. People of Cornwall are so mighty backward and it was just now that my husband and I were talking about this very same thing. You have to change now or else you will be completely isolated and nobody will go to Cornwall for visits nor to live. Change now and get educated. Cornwall was much better during the 50’s and 60’s than what it is today. Cornwall died literally and I mean that fully. It is about time that the people themselves stood up and did something and not just rely on the baffoons in council because they are a useless bunch and there for their own good. Wake up before things get any worse.

  3. Author

    Jules I like Hugger, but he can be a bit closed minded 😉

  4. Jamie I like Hugger too and Furtz and everyone here. I come out with a great deal of things and stuff you won’t publish but I do not dislike anyone. Everyone has their own opinions good or bad or in between and we are different. Boy am I different. If you got to know me personally you would be continuing to say Jules, Jules, Jules. LOL LOL. My dear Jamie I like your CFN very much and we all differ which makes things interesting.

  5. Author

    Thank you Jules. I like it too and I like our comment section especially now that we’ve chased away the trolls and made it safer for people to comment.

  6. Jamie I am your rotweiller on CFN and I take that as a compliment. LOL LOL. I like to see people commenting and giving opinions and we are all different. I like Mr. Oldham along with a lot of people. If we were all the same it would be mighty boring believe me.

  7. Author

    Jules there is only one Rottie on CFN and that is Miss Melly who is not doing very well. We were going to have to put her down today and she decided she wasn’t ready. It was very odd. I may not be around much next week.

  8. Jamie I am so very sorry and if you saw my face just now I am literally crying. I cannot have a pet because that would literally tear me apart in pieces. Don’t worry about next week spend time with Miss Melly – you couldn’t imagine the love and care and devotion that they bring and they just cannot speak in words. You give my love and best wishes to her. I put the two dogs pictures on my computer to look at them when I can – I love them both – so mighty cute.

  9. No doubt about it, there are quite a few differing views, and that is good. It would be even better if a few more people jumped in.

  10. Author

    It would, but it seems that people are fearful of posting under their own names Furtz. That says a lot about the courage of their convictions.

  11. That’s so sad about Miss Melly. It ain’t easy loosing a friend like that.

  12. Author

    Furtz one of the meds she was on was zonking her out. I took her off of it and she gained a lot of life back. When she ran to get her toy for a friend that came over to say goodbye we both knew today would not be the day. At this stage every day is a bonus gift. Going through this puts a lot of the sad mayhem of politics and small minds in a larger perspective. It’s one day at a time now and make each one count.

  13. That makes sense Jamie. I would never post using my real name either. Life is dangerous enough without doing that.

  14. Author

    Furtz you’ve been grand-fathered in because you’re a brand and you registered. If you posted with your real name post people wouldn’t know it was you, at least for awhile, but the days of trolls and fake names are coming to an end because they simply defeat the purpose of having a comment section. Instead of debate it just sinks to name calling and bashing. I never wanted that for CFN.

  15. Sounds like she will be around for a while. That’s great! Enjoy your time together.

  16. Author

    One day at a time Furtz. Maybe another week or two if she hangs in there. I don’t want her to be in pain or suffering. Little Brock, her main tumor, has grown and her leg is weakening.

  17. Closed minded? Perhaps that’s how some see me. I believe in what I say and say what I believe. Have you ever seen me back down?

    Amalgamation MIGHT work if the outlying municipalities were closer. To me Ingleside and Long Sault are too far out to make it work. Moncton has a population of almost 70k in the city proper and 140k with outlying municipalities. Cornwall and its outlying areas does not even come close to this.

    Cornwall, IMHO, still has the “mill town” attitude. Until we get rid of that thinking we will not advance.

    People keep saying we need an “arts centre.” I would say the perfect location would be the Port Theatre. By purchasing neighboring properties and using the parking lot I think we could have a facility like Brockville’s. No need to go new when we have the perfect building already.

  18. Jamie dogs just like people have their good and bad days with illnesses and diseases. The meds that the vet gave you that knocks Mellie out isn’t good at all. Keep her well with you and awake as much as possible. This is something that I cannot handle and if you knew my sensitivities it is unreal. I love animals so very much and I adopt everyone’s dog in the park – well just about. Jamie like a human it tears us apart to see them go and like us they do die. They bring so much to us that we cannot give them enough thank you’s for being around. My much older sister who was a nurse had a dog and it got hit by a car (she lives in Riverdale) and that tore me apart and I have the dog’s pictures. I used to walk the dog and look after him when she and her family would go away on holidays. That dog would wake me up in the mornings and mom would sic the dog on me to get me up. LOL LOL. I have a mixture of laughter and tears thinking about them. My husband loves dogs and can sit all day with them. My husband had a German Sheppard when he was a child. I will talk to you privately one day about him and what happened. I wish you all the best Jamie and you take care of yourself and the dogs and cats. We all understand what you are going through but going through this yourself is much harder than what we can feel but it is something that I could not handle. All the best Jamie to you and take care.

  19. Author

    Hugger TAG is our defacto art centre. The city just cut its budget to zero. I think that answers the real position of the city and the desire for an arts centre. Btw, the Gallery itself was supposed to move into the basement of the Library, but that plan never materialized. Likewise a board from nearly 20 years ago had actually planed to build a new gallery on the Chenier site at Pitt and Second. Again, clearly the community has not embraced the value of the arts for whatever reason. The blame cannot be put at the foot of the gallery’s former ED either.

  20. Author

    Jules this was a med we tried after the cancer had spread and we decided on no further surgeries. It was a last ditch attempt to give her some longer good quality of life. The hope was to slow or reduce the tumors. I think poor Mel is simply too far along for it to help.

  21. When I refer to “arts centre” I am referring to a facility like Aultsville Theatre, but more along the lines of the Brockville Arts Centre. When I think of TAG I think of it as an art gallery. Aultsville is okay, but I think we could do better.

  22. Best of luck with Mel. You’ll know when the time is right.

  23. One thing that Hugger said that is true and that is that Cornwall is still in the mentality of a mill town. Hugger can tell of you that at one time Ottawa was a mill town of logging and yes a couple of paper mills. When we cam back to Ottawa in 2004 I wondered where the stink went to from Gatineau’s paper mill and there used to be the E.B. Eddy mill as well. Gatineau had some industries of the processed meats and other things. The vast majority of Ottawa is white collar town – mostly government but also in insurance, high tech, etc. If high tech and government goes to Cornwall watch out the prices will hit the roof. My husband thinks that with the time this can happen but it would take many years for this to happen. Ottawa is a big town now and buildings are going up everywhere to house the people. Many immigrants are coming in and so much crime. Even tonight in my area we heard plenty of emergency vehicles and I will hit Ottawa’s papers soon to see if I can see what might have happened. I am living in a bad area of Ottawa and it used to be good. We can’t tell what a neighborhood will be like and I wouldn’t buy in Ottawa at all. I have seen beautiful neighborhoods go to hell not the houses on those streets but the people who live there you wouldn’t want to know about. Good people are stuck there and we prefer renting.

  24. Yes, Ottawa was at one point, a very long time ago, a mill town. But the thing about Ottawa is it’s just a tad bigger than Cornwall, twenty to thirty times bigger depending on what you consider Ottawa. Ottawa got rid of the smell that Cornwall had much earlier. E.B. Eddy and others were required to put filters, etc on their equipment long ago. Ottawa being a tad bigger than Cornwall was able to shed the mill town label. It’s harder to shed that label if you are a small city or town.

    Ottawa is not truly a white collar city, it is more of a mixture of white and blue collar, always was, always will be.

    Cornwall will never be high tech city; it doesn’t have the technological infrastructure. And unless the city or potential employers are willing to spend the big bucks it’ll never happen.

    The problem with Ottawa is that they (city management) do not know how to plan housing. They put high priced homes across from rent-to-income / no income housing. THAT is a sure fired plan for bad stuff to happen. And then they wonder why there are robberies, break-ins, etc. Jeez, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

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