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Council divided on SAC grant proposal

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 06/21/2018 9:15 AM

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There was no full moon on Tuesday night but something was definitely unusual as a few odd alliances were formed around the table at Steinbach city council over a motion brought forward by Councillor Susan Penner.

After securing a $65,000 grant from Clearview Co-op earlier this month for upgrades at the Steinbach Arts Centre, Penner suggested that the city provide matching funds for the arts council to use towards building improvements.

She noted that SAC had presented to council last October and suggested that supported this project would be a good example of investing in project that has private funding support too.

Fellow councillor Cari Penner threw her support behind the idea, arguing the city has neglected the arts centre facility, which is a city owned building.

"Here’s an opportunity to match those funds and give it a bit of a boost."

Councillor Earl Funk, who along with Councillors Michael Zwaagstra and Susan Penner has been steadfast in concerns about larger cultural capital projects, said this was a chance to invest in a city asset too.

But Zwaagstra suggested if the city was investing funds towards improvements of a city building, perhaps it should have a say in how the money was used.

"They have a list, let them go through it," Funk responded, adding that the arts council intends to get local artists to volunteer their time towards some of the improvements.

"If they’re not paying out wages, this money is going to be multiplied even further."

City manager Troy Warkentin also reminded council that in the terms of its lease with SAC, the city remains responsible for costs associated with structural components of the building.

Zwaagstra suggested the ad-hoc approach was a fairly significant detour from the city’s current grants policy. He advised tabling the motion for further discussion at council’s study session in July.

His suggestion received support from Mayor Chris Goertzen, Councillor Jac Siemens, and Councillor John Fehr, all of whom voiced support for the need for upgrades at the arts centre, but believed more discussion was needed.

A vote to table the motion passed by a 4-3 vote.

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