MV Culture & Heritage Society reports on Railway Station negotiations

Doug De La Matter at May 22 Council meeting

In response to many questions about the status of our negotiations with the Township, MVCHS regrets that so far, the process has been unsuccessful.

Despite our offer to renew and reinvigorate the Station, its programming, and the other events associated with Railway Station Park, while at the same time reducing the tax dollars spent there in years gone by, Council’s negotiators have refused to provide any tax funding to run the Station. They have offered to keep the building operational (lights on and the toilets running, etc.) and they will hire summer students to manage the tourist booth.

In addition, they have offered to release $24,000 of “non-tax money” — funds raised and left in trust for the Railway Station by the Madawaska Valley Arts Council, former operators of South of 60 at the Station.

The budget assigned to the Railway Station in 2016 was about $150,000. We can do a good job with 60% of that funding. But it is obvious that their latest offer would underfund our efforts to hire knowledgeable staff to rebuild the programming that made the Station a thriving Creative Space for all ages. It would also underfund our efforts to research and create effective grant applications to bring outside funding into the community to repair and run the facility in future years.

In our initial presentation, we stated that we would need two years of municipal funding before we thought we could become financially independent. Although full council endorsed working with us, that aspect seems to have been overlooked.

The MVCHS volunteer Board of Directors (3 local business owners, 2 teachers and 2 health professionals) believes strongly in the value of the Station to the township community. We still hope to work with Council to revitalize the Railway Station programming, but so far their offer would result in a barebones operation that would function in name only. We feel strongly that the community deserves better.

MVCHS had hoped to (and still hopes to) access funding that is unavailable to municipalities and bring outside resources into our community. Unfortunately, it appears that we do not have a Municipal partner in this effort, at this time.

With the help of interested citizens, we will run various events (possibly as soon as the July 1 long weekend) and we will work toward celebrating the arrival,125 years ago, of the first train in Barry’s Bay with events on the Labour Day weekend, 2019. THAT will be fun!

Look for us on Facebook. (Madawaska Valley Culture & Heritage Society) Click HERE to visit.

Please contribute YOUR creative ideas to our efforts to work as a united community, to help make our township an attractive and welcoming place to live and to visit. (info@mvcultureandheritage.ca)

Help us if you can, by buying a membership at our website. Click HERE to visit www.mvcultureandheritage.ca

More background information on these negotiations is also available there.

Source: De La Matter, D. (2018, 23 May) Report on Railway Station Negotiations from the Madawaska Valley Culture and Heritage Society [Press Release]

Editor’s Note: The Current will discuss this development in a future article.

7 Comments

  1. Paul-James DWYER

    The volunteers and students who kept the station open deserve some respect for their continued efforts to make the station viable. It seems the only culture council is interested in is their own myopic agenda. The business owners in town should be up in arms over this issue, as it will impact their own financial viability when tourists don’t bother to stop in the Bay, but continue on to other more interesting and enticing destinations. Art and culture don’t only exist in tech toys and internet applications. Shame!

  2. Nancy Fortune

    Leaving the tourism side of our Railways Station to summer students is totally inadequate. It is a big job with ongoing projects and developments. Or at least it should be, as it was in the past, and looks like it could be again with the well organized proposal from the MVCHS. It seems a no brainer. Someone willing to do the job with an unbiased approach at a 40% cost reduction. Why is it so hard!

  3. Pingback: A Railway Station dialogue – Madawaska Valley Current

  4. Mary-Rose Dawes

    It is true that we need the arts in our community. It would appear that the Township offered a place to host exhibits, with heat, hydro, phone and internet paid for plus $24,000 as a starting dollar amount. This was turned down. Lots of communities who have a strong and very interested arts group collectively rent space to exhibit their creations and work a turn as a volunteer to run the gallery. No municipal support needed. The artists of MV were offered free space. I hardly see that as a council that is not invested in the arts. If the artists and their afficianadoes are truly interested in the use of the railway station, make it happen by working together. Paying for the running of an art gallery, hosting exhibits or organizing creative workshops could all be done by an artist cooperative.

  5. Pat scott

    I would very much like to hear the best offer that council can offer, however, since it is election year I am sure they don’t want to make any committments. It is too bad there is so much short sighted thinking and personal agendas.

  6. Joanne Olsen

    We are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers in the Madawaska Valley Culture and Heritage Society who need the support of all residents. In the words of Joni Mitchell…..don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. We have a historical gem in the Station and Water Tower Park. Other communities would be investing and promoting this if they had the opportunity.

  7. sylvia anne hinrichsen

    re…railroad station….the very same thing happened to the wilno rink…. a dedicated group of volunteers took over…mv tried to shut us down….we raised money ….won money and now have a grant of 150 thousand dollars….I am not sure what the council has against culture and heritage but from where I sit it sure looks like they do

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