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. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.