Sunday, October 16, 2011

"It's All Fair in the Agreement"

In my Posting on the lack of an Aurora Museum posted back in March of this year, "Young & Progressive" commented:

"Congratulations on a great blog...however, just an FYI...the Centre just finished a month long exhibit of Heritage artifacts...the artifacts don't sit in boxes, they are rotated out for show. It's all fair in the agreement. I agree with you that the space can be shared."

From the above comment there are two main issues I wish to draw to light the issues with the current arrangement with the comittee that operates the Aurora Cultural Centre.  Before I go any further I totally agree with what  Aurora Councillor Eveyln Buck posted recently on her blog especially when she noted:

"I have made it clear, numerous times, the board and staff at the Culture Centre did not create the original problem."

And I would love to add to the blog posting this line: "The current staff at the Cultural Centre do put on great events for the general public, but there seems to be a missing piece of the original intentions of the renovations to Church Street School."

Let's rewind a little to the original agreement made between the Town of Aurora and the Aurora Historical Society.  Back then it was to renovate the Church Street School into an Aurora Heritage Centre using funds raised by the Aurora Historical Society.  The dream was to ensure the historical artifacts were housed in the proper climate controlled environments yet acessible to those that wished to study and enjoy them.  Hence why there currently is a climate controlled room on the second floor of the current Cultural Centre as well as an extensive HVAC system installed that visitors enjoy today.  However, somewhere during the renovations the wheels fell off and the Town of Aurora was asked to take over the project by the Aurora Historical Society.

Chris Watts on his blog gave the perfect explanation of what happened next once the Town of Aurora took over the project.  The Town approached the federal government for assistance to obtain a grant to assist in finishing the renovations started by the Historical Society. Chris obviously did a little digging and came up with this Town of Aurora By-Law from 2008:

"...the town's bylaw # 5014-08.F:

Whereas Council has endorsed the grant application to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for funding under the program entitled "Cultural Spaces Canada" to receive funding for Capital Project No. 72059 - Aurora Heritage Centre, toward upgrades to the Aurora Heritage Centre;
And whereas the Minister of Canadian Heritage is providing financial assistance under the Cultural Spaces Canada - Grant Program in support of Capital Project No. 72059 - Aurora Heritage Centre, in the amount of $750,000.

Under the heading "Purpose of Conribution" [sic] it reads :

The Minister agrees to enter into this Contribution Agreement in order to grant financial assistance to the Recipient soley for the purpose of implementing the Project described in Annex A of this agreement entitled: "Aurora Heritage Centre".

So the federal government has provided a grant to the Town of Aurora to upgrades to the "Aurora Heritage Centre".  I believe as well there was a Trillium Grant made to the Historical Society or the Town of Aurora as well for these purposes.  So obviously there are written agreements out there with federal and provincial departments/agencies that show the money was granted for historical/heritage purposes and, it seems, the original intentions were to incorporate at museum into the new Aurora Heritage Centre. As a citizen of Aurora at the time, it was my expecatation as well as others in the Aurora blogosphere, that Church Street school would at least host a museum as well. 

"At least" being the operative words.  Historically the building has held a museum as well as been a home for the local area Scout Shop, Big Brothers, the Pine Tree Potters and other community organizations.  These organizations and the museum had lived in harmony for many years in the town owned building. So why would the Aurora Museum not continue to share the space?  Perhaps with the movement of the community groups out of the building into new homes elsewhere another shared space would occurr.  Thus the next step of the evolution of the Church Street School  would be once the renovations were completed.  

Once the renovations were completed an agreement was created between the Town of Aurora and the a volunteer board for cultural programming to be offered.  This is the same agreement that "Young & Progressive" has noted in his/her comment noted above.  This is the same agreement in a recent auditor's report to the Town of Aurora Council and referenced in The Auroran edition of October 11, 2011 on page 7.  The auditors found the Cultural Centre to be in complete compliance with the agreement between the council of the day and the Cultural Centre committee.

The main issue that obviously needs to be resolved and seems to keep getting bogged down in details and personalities is the missing Musuem component of the original intention of the Church Street School building for which federal, provincial and municipal to the town council as well as the private donor funding via the Aurora Historical Society was provided.

Some, like "Young & Progressive" have pointed out that the artifacts of the Aurora Historical Society do make their rounds at shows at the Cultural Centre from time to time.  I did note that in the original posting in March 2011 and Anna has noted on her blog recently some artifacts have shown up at the Aurora Public Library.  However, this overlooks the original intentions many had of the renovations to Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lester B. Pearson's former school building in the dream of a state of the art museum operating in a historic building. 

A state of the art museum was the original dream of the Aurora Historical Society, the private donors, and the Town Council of the day.  Even the original Aurora Council Motion moved by Councillor Ron Wallace and seconded by Councillor Evelyn Buck to start the process for a "Heritage & Cultural Centre" to be created at Church Street School.  It is duly noted and appreciated by many including myself and the recent auditor's report that the Cultural aspect of this motion has been adhered to quite well.  But there seems to be a musuem missing from the original intent of the motion.  It is one thing to show the artifacts in random showings around town in displays.  But it is quite another to have a modern state of the art musuem available as promised in the original agreement between the Town of Aurora, the federal government and the province.

1 comment:

  1. Michael well written.
    There is no reason not to share space in the cultural centre, promotes some extra visitor traffic.
    Anna :)


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