Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Town of Aurora Council Items – Aurora Cultural Centre

  1. The public has to be confident that the way Town Hall does business as a routine is serving them well, and that the public is in fact getting the best possible value for money spent.
  2. The current Cultural Services Agreement (CSA) gives exclusive control of a Town Facility to an independent third party non profit organization, complete with a volunteer Board.
  3. This arrangement has raised numerous concerns. In the opinion of many, this was a lousy deal for Aurora Taxpayers. The Cultural Service Agreement had to be addressed.
Cultural Centre

Although there was some growth at the Aurora Cultural Centre, the dependency on Town’s resources was increasing. There was a lack of oversight from the Town’s perspective. Apart from loose attendance figures, there were no means to measure the Cultural Services provided.

The Church Street School Cultural Centre is an overwhelming undertaking and hugely successful.

It’s been four years with the current CSA. It’s been tried, tested and given plenty of leeway. Thank you Aurora Cultural Centre Board, staff and volunteers for all you have done so far. You have laid the groundwork for a vibrant, engaging public facility.

Bottom line. The taxpayers are spending $500,000 per year, to have an independent, arms length organization run a Cultural Service program in a facility owned and funded by the Town of Aurora. It’s costing too much.

There is one underlying reality we have to accept. We have to change the way we operate this facility.

A committee chosen from Town Staff and Aurora Cultural Centre Board Members, charged with drafting a new CSA, made some excellent recommendations but came up short in the end.

As an elected representative, I answer to the taxpayers. I make decisions that I believe are in the best interest for the Town of Aurora and her residents.

I cannot and will not support the proposed CSA, nor will I support a 20 year Lease at $1/year. This is not a good deal for the Town of Aurora.

Council should be the ones to choose a Board with Terms of Reference.

The Board should have Council representation or at the very least employees from the Town staff appointed. That would cover the oversight required.

Little else would change.

The Board’s role would be to create and oversee programs and events. To advise and assist staff, maintain revenue streams, seek grants and fundraising opportunities.

The Town would assume the day to day operation with the same existing staff.

The Town will carry on business in the same manner it does with the dozens of facilities it owns and operates throughout our Community.

No Agreement.

No Lease.

This shift in operation procedure, specifically to end the independent cultural services agreement is not a reflection on the Board, staff and volunteers.

This is about what is best for the Town of Aurora and the taxpayers. Ultimately, that translate to what is the best for the Church Street Cultural Centre.

John Abel
Councillor, Town of Aurora

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