CORNWALL, Ontario – As a part of their capital projects budget presentation to Cornwall City Council, the Recreation Department disclosed that it was seeking significant grant funding from the province and federal government for the Arts and Culture Centre.
Cornwall purchased 159 Pitt St., the former Bank of Montreal, in 2018 to serve as the site of the future Arts and Culture Centre.
The site was purchased for over $400,000 with a further $4 million to $6 million to remodel the building to fit its purpose as an art centre.
To help foot that bill, the local arts community pledged to raise $1 million for the project.
To date, the arts community has raised over $600,000.
Jamie Fawthrop, Division Manager for Parks and Recreation told Council that they had completed an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) which would see the provincial and federal governments pay 33.3 per cent and 40 per cent of the project respectively.
With community donations in the amount of $1 million, the City of Cornwall would finance the remaining $300,000, if the total cost of the project is indeed $6 million.
Fawthrop explained that the City would be developing a business plan for the site and hiring an architect to create renderings of the finished building, hopefully before the end of the summer.
Councillor Dean Hollingsworth was skeptical of the project.
“So you are asking Council to commit to $5 million of financing without knowing the operating costs or the design of the building,” he said. Hollingsworth went on to indicate that he would not be in favour of the Arts Centre as it is planned now.
Councillor Eric Bergeron also expressed his skepticism of financing a project that did not have a design or business plan, but Councillor Claude McIntosh countered that it was too late to back up now.
“It’s a go. It’s a little hard to back out of it now. We’ve jumped out of the airplane,” McIntosh said
Councillor Todd Bennett said that having an Arts and Culture Centre for Cornwall was something that the city had been moving towards for a long time and that standing against the project would be a serious political error.
“If anyone had read any reports on arts and culture on dollars that they bring in a community would be making a serious mistake in voting to cancel this and that would be a horrible mistake in a young political career,” Bennett said.
Fawthrop confirmed that no money would be budgeted for the Arts Centre for 2020 and that money set aside in a previous year’s budget would be used to hire the architect.