Bank of Montreal Arts Centre in Cornwall Will be an Election Issue by Jamie Gilcig 062718

Cornwall Ontario – What a weird group around the council table Cornwall has.    It’s odd, as though some on council have brain function issues….or simply are trying to copy Brockville.

Brockville’s art centre renovated an old theatre; with much public money, into a stunning and lovely facility that is a gem and attraction for its community.

Cornwall had that chance with the Capital theatre, but because of corruption demolished the old gem.   The city spends about $100K per year subsidizing Aultsville Theatre’s (SLC’s auditorium essentially) which is utterly insane.

The city had the chance to buy the old Port theatre and missed out on that opportunity too.

And saddest of most, after decades of not really supporting its only art institution, it’s public art gallery on Pitt Street, because of some utterly petty and mean spirited councilors (David Murphy, Claude Macintosh,  Andre Rivette & Bernadette Clement in particular) , its funding was cut to zero which after two years led to its closure.

During the 36 years of the Cornwall Community Art Gallery, or TAG Cornwall as it was known, there was poor community financial support for the gallery.  Other than its miserly stipend from the city which essentially covered its executive director’s salary  very little other support was given and its board members many times had personal agendas including current councilors Carilyne Hebert and Elaine MacDonald who actually broke the law while on its board by demanding the paying of workers to run its bingo night fundraisers against the warnings of the ED at the time.

In the shadows of in camera meeting allegedly Ms MacDonald pushed for the purchase of the BOM building and now is banging the drums for $4-6 MILLION dollars in renovations for a facility that clearly isn’t art centre material.   It has no real parking for such a facility.   It’s near a four way intersection, and a busy one by Cornwall standards, and frankly it all just makes no sense.

There is one clear spot for an arts centre and that’s to use part of the Cornwall Library whose high ceilings make for a lovely potential small seat theatre if a new Art Centre even needs one.  The library’s $2M yearly cost would be shared by the art centre making some fiscal sense, and it would need less renovation and already is performing as a defacto art centre.

With the Port alive, the auditorium at SLC, and the Galaxy screening rooms there is more than enough commercial space available for rent.  Does it make sense to spend tax dollars to create a space to compete with those that are paying taxes?   Isn’t that kinda insane?

And even more insane is that this project wasn’t brought to council by an art group or collective.  In fact after years a grand total of about $3,000 has been collected to date.   That’s also insane and certainly not worthy of a close to $7M investment.

Right now the BOM building is costing the city approximately $5K per month to run(mortgage, insurance, utilities,etc) .   By the time any possible funding could come into play that’s a lot of cash spent for a building that really isn’t suitable to the task.

Ironically the building that housed the art gallery could’ve been had for about $200K and included a two room space that could have been used for the bus drivers rest room ( The city currently spends about $1300 per month renting an apartment above Gordon’s Jewellers) That amount alone would almost have covered the mortgage on the property.

The purchase of the BOM building is apparently not in the 2018 budget.  It was done in the shadows via in camera meetings.   Even after the sale has been completed CAO Maureen Adams has not responded to this newspapers queries about which councilors voted for this farce.

But there’s one clear answer.   And it will be an election issue.   Simply either find another use for the building or put it back on the market.    The rate payers of Cornwall deserve for the numbers to make sense, and frankly they should have a say before this sort of commitment is made.

Should Cornwall Sell the BOM Building & Cancel the Elaine MacDonald Follies?

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Right now we’re looking at about $60K per year in cost for the building and the city has initiated more consulting for the space at additional cost to you and I.   That should end soon and again voters should have their say at election time this fall.

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


  1. Nominations close July 27.

  2. I hope more candidates come forward, otherwise David Murphy will be mayor. That’s not a prospect I think we want. He’s one of the worst clique based cliquesters we have here.

    As for councillors we have eight “new” candidates besides Justin Towndale that have put their names forward. But from the eight there are two from previous councils. And I’d rather not see those two return to council.

  3. I hope this becomes an election issue. Still no explanation on how the building was paid for. Now they want to have an open house before renos begin. No plans or budget on the cost of renos have been presented to council or the taxpayers . Just an estimate of $4 – $6 million. And still no solid plans on how the renos will be paid for, just talk. Lame duck councils cannot do these things.

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