I’m Bill Kingston with today’s commentary. Listening to the first presentations Friday from some of the outside agencies there is something that is puzzling. Many of the groups are interconnected but are not connected. Let me expand on that by using the Centre Culturel de Cornwall as an example. It’s asking for a $40,000 grant this year. They’ve been given $16,000 in previous years. There’s an extra $20,000 to market a festival for the 400th anniversary of Francophone presence in Cornwall and SD&G.
One councillor scratched the surface by asking the group if it had approached the tourism board for help. They hadn’t explored that avenue and that’s where the problem lies. Why are we giving $181,000 to a tourism agency to do local marketing and also possibly up to $20,000 to a French culture center for partially marketing a tourism event?
You also have senior’s centers asking for funding. Some are sitting on building funds and some have a couple hundred members each. The city has taken one step toward accountability by making sure groups have to show proof they are looking for other sources of revenue, such as Ontario Trillium grants.
But I’ll take it a step further. If they give the money this year, they should make it contingent on groups with similar sectors sitting down with an independent third party and look at consolidation and amalgamation of overhead to cut down costs. The French groups are somewhat cagey about “protecting and preserving” the French culture. But sharing a building with another group isn’t going to threaten that and will cut costs in the long run and ultimately save the groups money as well as the taxpayer.
Whether it’s the arts, tourism or senior’s groups, with the city having fewer dollars and the private sector always having to do more with less, it’s time these groups look at getting together for long term sustainability.