$351,735.30 Is All That’s Been Raised for Cornwall Art Centre BOM Building Fiasco. By Jamie Gilcig 03092020 #cwlpoli

City Hall confirmed that after several years all that has been raised. IE, money in the bank, from all of those wanting an art centre in Cornwall at the former tiny Bank of Montreal building is a paltry….. $351,735.30

The City to date has purchased the building for nearly $500K. It’s had at least two studies down for nearly $1M.

And not a single shovel has begun. Insanity you say? When you have a Mayor who over spent on her personal campaign budget by nearly 30% without being held accountable can you really expect different?

Generally one would expect that any special interest group would bring 10% of the project to the table. This clearly has not happened in Cornwall.

A few rag tag art hobby groups which failed to support their own public art gallery and other local spaces are demanding the city invest big for a space for them to play. And they don’t really have a plan which the city seems to be fine in going along and writing cheques for.

The bigger question is why are Mayor Clement, and Councilors MacDonald and Hebert pushing so hard, especially as both councilors were on the board of the Art Gallery and failed it including breaking of the law by paying for workers to raise funds at local charity bingo?

If a city wouldn’t find $55,000 per year to keep its Art Gallery going which included 1 paid staffer why would we want to create city staff to run an art centre at a cost most likely ten times that?

What is the value of even having a Centre of the tiny footprint proposed? Other than the facade of the Bank of Montreal building there really isn’t much to preserve with the costings including spending cash to tear down and rebuild with a range of $5-10 million in costs expected including adding an elevator which the Library already has.

Does that make any sense? Using numbers from this study it would only cost about $3M to build a 10,000 square foot space in the public library or Benson Centre.

Again, the Library, with an overhead estimated at $2M per year is already functioning in many ways as a defacto art centre. Just adding a black box theatre, if that truly is necessary, makes sense if you are going to invest in this project in Cornwall.

So why the resistance from City Hall and Bernie’s Girls?

Remember we’re using the high priced city estimates for these costings.

$250 per square foot to renovate vs $425 per square foot to build.

The library is the only logical downtown location from a fiscal and aesthetic position of sanity.

But it comes down the question of whether this project has any real purpose or need.

Clearly less than $400K of fund raising in nearly 5 years is weak sauce, especially when big chunks of it come from the city itself (it’s tourism wing, a slush fund run by Mayor Clement’s campaign manager Etienne St. Aubin, recently agreed to a $100K 4 year overall donation).

Where is the fund raising? Where is corporate Cornwall or the Big Shots like the Kanebs or Leon Sabourin? There simply is no real organization to make this happen and there’s imply been no success.

And there certainly is nothing to warrant Federal or Provincial funding based on this hot mess.

Sadly it seems the people of Cornwall are better at ripping things down than working together at building them.

This will be an election issue because frankly even the plan of actually putting the art centre where it should be, in the Library building, isn’t warranted by the investment from the public and lack of art community leadership.

History simply isn’t on its side. In Brockville for example, when they needed new seats for their art centre it was publicly funded and supported, and well done to. There’s a real need and push and a building that is worthy of being an art centre there.

This BOM fiasco is a humoungous waste of tax dollars and at the end of the day the city has probably wasted close to $1 million of tax money without any of it being used to support or advance the arts in this community.

That’s shameful. That’s bad governance and bad management.

As an actual real artist I get the need for a facility which is why I devoted as much energy, time, and resources in saving the public art gallery which the city was determined to kill. Only Bernadette Clement and her supporters can answer why they were so dead set on doing so as it would’ve been the true platform to build from.

It makes no sense wanting a Ferrari when you can only afford a Nissan. There’s nothing wrong with a Nissan, really, I love mine. Living within your means is not a crime.

Art doesn’t need rich soil to grow. It just needs love and passion. And that sadly is missing in this community.

And it certainly needs more than Katie Burke, a former child molester, and hanger ons have achieved.

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  1. Absurd, imbecilic, embarrassment… only begins to describe this assinine excuse of a city council, and its doddering self-deluded culture bearers, funding vanity with our money.

    The subject structure is too small, not even free standing, and a renovation money pit to boot. Cornwall Square would’ve cost the same, housed all city admin — even an arts centre — has parking, and earns an income.

  2. Author

    That’s a fine point Simon. What’s scary are the local unions and imbeciles that are enabling this circus. It really is time for Brampton 2.0 in this next election and clean house from top to bottom.

    It’s the only way to ever have a chance at moving Cornwall forward.

    And yes, we need to change the city’s name once it happens and start fresh.

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