Cornwall signs 19-year deal for Aultsville Theatre

Aultsville Theatre at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, Ont. on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. The City of Cornwall has signed a 19-year deal to lease the theatre from the college. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall and St. Lawrence College have signed a 19-year agreement to lease Aultsville Theatre.

City council endorsed the deal Monday night, which starts today (March 1) and runs through February 2041.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $110,125 in the first year for basic rent and the amount will be adjusted yearly based on the cost of living (Consumer Price Index).

The corporation will also make $30,000 payments yearly (paid monthly at $2,500 per month) for leasehold improvements to the building on Montreal Road. The agreement also places spending limits on St. Lawrence College for leasehold improvements.

If the city wanted to host an event at the theatre, that’s not possible. The deal states the venue is “used only for the operation of a theatre and any theatre-related activities, and for no other use whatsoever.”

The city estimates the operating costs for Aultsville will be $67,000 a year, leading to an overall commitment of $207,125.

In a report to city council, Chief Administrative Officer Maureen Adams says the deal will provide “long term security” and the long-term lease “is also required to access grant funding opportunities.”

The theatre is working with the local health unit on a post-pandemic reopening plan, with venues being hosted “in the weeks ahead” but likely at reduced capacity to start.

St. Lawrence College told the city three years ago that it would no longer support the theatre but would continue to provide the space on a cost recovery basis.

The city had been paying $97,000 a year until it jumped to $127,000 in 2020 due to the college backing out of the arrangement.

Cornwall has not been charged for the location throughout the pandemic, according to the city’s 2021 budget.

The city had budgeted $277,000 for Aultsville Theatre this year but due to the pandemic and the partial year, that budget has been lowered to $172,600.