Thursday, February 19, 2009

Funding Priorities: Milton-Style

Call it a tale of two headlines.

Yesterday's Champion has two stories about what Milton can expect to receive from the federal government's infrastructure stimulus funding package. First the good news:

Raitt, Krantz discuss funding program for centre repairs
By Tim Foran, Canadian Champion Staff

There will be no stickhandling necessary to play in this RInC.

That was the message from Milton Mayor Gord Krantz following a recent meeting with Halton MP Lisa Raitt at the Milton Sports Centre.

The two officials privately discussed the federal government’s two-year, $500 million Recreation Infrastructure in Canada (RInC) funding program announced in the recently passed federal budget.

Though the application process hasn’t been finalized, Krantz said he was confident there wouldn’t be bureaucratic red tape that might hold up the flow of funds.

“I don’t think there’ll be much stickhandling; it’s pretty straightforward,” said Krantz of the RInC program’s application process. “It’s a slapshot.”

Whether the Town scores though won’t be known for a while.

Milton has already identified $1.6 million in repairs to the John Tonelli Sports Centre and the Milton Leisure Centre as possible projects eligible for federal funding, but the Town is waiting for application details before submitting its requests.

And then there's the bad news:

$15-million library, art centre funding application denied
But projects not dead: Krantz

By Tim Foran, Canadian Champion Staff

The Town of Milton’s application for $15 million in federal and provincial funding for an arts and entertainment centre and central library has been rejected.

The two upper levels of government announced Friday a combined $667 million in funding for 289 infrastructure projects in Ontario communities with less than 100,000 people, but Milton’s November funding application wasn’t included in the list of successful projects.

Milton had applied for $7.5 million in funding from each of the two upper governments, money that would have been used toward the construction of the $26 million arts and entertainment centre and the $14 million central library.

“It would go without saying that I’m a little disappointed,” said Milton Mayor Gord Krantz of the unsuccessful application.

Sure. Sure you are, Gord.

Just to give you some idea of what the priorities are in this town, we currently have three hockey arenas (including the giant, multi-rink Milton Sports Centre), a curling rink, a massive Leisure Centre, two public pools (one indoor, one outdoor), and multiple baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, tennis courts, etc. We even have a lawn bowling / croquet field.

Our town's many music and theatre groups, on the other hand, do not have a single dedicated venue to perform in. Instead, they have to make do with either the high school auditorium, the Senior's Centre, or one of the dozen or so churches in town - none of which have appropriate acoustics, lighting, or anything else needed to put on a proper, professional production.

When the Milton Choristers had their 35th anniversary gala a few years ago, they had to do it at the Mississauga Arts Centre.

One possible reason given for why funding was denied for the arts centre and library are that the stimulus is specifically geared towards the ubiquitous "shovel-ready" projects, and the arts centre in particular isn't slated to break ground for a least another two or three years. But why is that? The arts community has been screaming for this centre for at least a decade, and Town Council approved it.. three? four years ago? And yet it hasn't even reached the design stage.

But hey - at least the new Town Hall Expansion is going lickety-split. Complete with its million dollar imported British glass wall.

Isn't it lovely? I wonder what the acoustics are like in there...

(cross-posted from HaltonWatch.)

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