Brantford, Ontario’s city council proposes to spend $1.43 Million to move the Brant Museum and Archives from its city owned location on 57 Charlotte St. to the Market Square, owned by Laurier-Brantford, to get more space. The city will pay rent to Laurier.
Yes, you took the words out of our mouth—another game of “musical buildings” in downtown Brantford.
We empathize with the museum’s lack of space, but question the timing and mechanics of the proposed move. Not only did the city give away the Market Square (commercial property worth tens of millions) for a paltry $5.8 Million to WLU, but now the city wants to pay rent to house the museum in their former building. This in addition to the rent the city will eventually pay Laurier for the space used in the Market Square for city departments. (In lieu of $5.8 Million cash, Laurier will not charge the city rent for approximately 7.5 years.)
The crux: The Charlotte St. location is city owned, so the only real cost is staffing and maintenance. A move to the Market Square means the addition of rent and possibly other operating costs.
But, that’s not all; the plot thickens as you might expect. Under the “façade” grant program, the city agrees to give Laurier $17,000 (normal grant limit is 7,000) towards the cost of the exterior and interior sections of the museum totaling $162,000. (Why would a tenant give money to a landlord for improvements to a property they wish to rent?)
This grant program was designed for commercial and retail businesses. Laurier, as a public institution funded primarily by PROVINCIAL tax dollars and its users, is neither.
Is anyone keeping track of the unending incentives to Laurier? We note, from the 2014 Financial Statements, the city is still paying installments on the $1.3 Million grant for the Academic Centre ($175,000 for years 2015 to 2017; $150,000 for the year 2018).
As we’ve said, the education sector is a good addition to downtown Brantford. But, it is only one piece of a successful downtown. A piece that has received more than its share of incentives funded by Brantford taxpayers. Mr. Rick Wright expounds on this in the link below. There comes a time when the giveaways of “properties, renovations, buildings, cash, etc.” must end and the entity becomes self-sustaining.
At what point will Laurier-Brantford be self-sustaining?
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