December 12, 2017 12:47 pm

City council approves $4M for Canadian Canoe Museum; rejects DBIA levy increase

City council approves budget including $4 million for Canadian Canoe Museum

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Peterborough city council changed its decision and will grant the Canadian Canoe Museum’s request for $4 million to help build a new facility.

In previous budget talks, council approved $2 million for the new museum, estimated to cost $65 million when it’s completed near the Peterborough Liftlock. And council wanted to wait until 2019 to further address the museum request for the other $2 million.

READ MORE: Gordon Lightfoot donates canoes to Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough

However, council changed its mind after hearing reports from museum officials including chairman John Ronson.

“It’s the $4 million that is critical — if you want pay it over a longer length of time… if you wanted to pay it over eight years would be completely acceptable,” Ronson said.

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The museum says $13 million has been earmarked through a federal cultural space grant. But that sum is contingent on the full endorsement of city council.

“I recognize that $2 million is a sizable commitment — it speaks to a certain level of support for this undertaking,” said museum volunteer Joanne Brown. “But as I think you understand a large piece of federal funding is contingent on that number doubling.”

In a late night vote council did a turnabout and supported the $4 million commitment over an eight-year period. But Coun. Andrew Beamer maintained his objection to the larger amount, stating that the original $2 million was “very generous,” given other city issues to address including unemployment and homelessness.

City council also rejected the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area’s request to keep a 2 per cent levy increase.

It was unanimously approved by the DBIA membership at its annual meeting in the summer.

But city councillors put the levy increase on hold, saying they wanted a better understanding of how the DBIA planned to spend its budget.

READ MORE: Peterborough DBIA executive director calls council’s decision to nix levy increase ‘petty’

The DBIA did win a settlement that sees the city pay them $150,000 a year for next 20 years as a result of the casino being built in the city’s south end and not in the downtown core.

But DBIA board member and accountant Brad Collyer says that funding is separate from other initiatives.

“The purpose of the casino settlement is to compensate the downtown members for the negative economic impact the casino will have on our members when it draws tourism dollars away from the downtown,” he said.

Despite Collyer’s presentation, council maintained its stance on the freezing the levy.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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