ArtSea, which runs the annual Sidney Fine Art Show, stands to benefit from Sidney’s planned withdrawal from the CRD arts service next year. (File)

Sidney reaffirms decision to back out of regional arts service

Mayor wanted a referendum, council says no

When Sidney leaves the Capital Regional District’s Arts Commission next year, not only will local groups not qualify for a pool of $2.4 million in grants, but organizations wanting to perform in Sidney will not qualify either.

Town council reiterated an earlier decision to back out of the CRD Arts Commission on Monday, March 12. They formally asked municipal staff to follow through on giving the CRD notice by June 30 that Sidney would no longer be a part of the Commission as of the 2019 fiscal year. The decision was initially made in June 2017, when the Town was told its share in the Commission would go from $15,000 a year, to approximately $38,000, once a new bylaw was passed this year.

RELATED: Sidney gives conditional approval to membership in CRD arts service.

That bylaw passed recently and Sidney will be on the hook this year for the $38,000 contribution as a Group 2 member of the Commission. Prior to the change, Group 2 members (including Highlands, Metchosin and the Southern Gulf Islands) made voluntary contributions of a minimum of $500. The Town of Sidney had made their membership in the arts service conditional on better provisions on member ability to withdraw included in the new bylaw.

The issue was raised again this week when Mayor Steve Price asked council to consider taking the question of whether Sidney should be part of the Commission to the public, ideally in a referendum question during the civic election this fall. that would essentially leave the decision up to the next council.

He said if the Town backs out, Sidney-based arts groups cannot apply for the pool of grant money available from the CRD — nor can groups who wish to perform in town (such as the Palm Court Light Orchestra) apply for grants to enable them to do so.

That was confirmed by James Lam, manager of the CRD Arts Commission. He said they are aware that Sidney will likely withdraw from the service. The loss of the Town’s $15,000, he said, represents 0.6 per cent of the overall Commission funding pool. Lam added that the bylaw change this month does increase Sidney’s contribution amount to 30 per cent of the total funding level.

“Sidney felt that was too much of an ask,” he said.

Lam said the regional arts service recognizes that performances, shows and more are attended by people from across the region and that municipalities need to look at the service as helping connect and support different arts communities.

Price said that in the wake of ongoing public pressure over transparency on a variety of issues, he felt it was important to find out how residents feel about the arts service and not simply make the decision from the council table.

“We kind of forgot about consulting with the public,” Price said, adding in an email to the PNR later: “Why not ask the public, would you support remaining as a CRD arts service level 2 member at a cost of $5.00 per household per year? Yes or No.”

Councillor Peter Wainwright wondered why Price was pushing this issue for a referendum, when council has made plenty of similar decisions without going to the public.

“I do believe in letting the community speak,” Wainwright said, adding he feels it has to be made clear that the CRD pushed a bylaw through — one that Sidney was specifically objecting to.

“We made it clear to (the CRD) that we didn’t support the increase in budget, because we had a lot of other interests from the community for funding for arts and culture.”

Coun. Barbara Fallot added council feels the local arts community could better use Sidney’s $15,000.

“Sidney’s arts community … deserves to be supported too,” she said, adding there’s nothing stopping Sidney from going back to the CRD, but the current policy is to withdraw.

Coun. Erin Bremner-Mitchell raised a motion to funnel Sidney’s annual payment of $15,000 to ArtSea — Sidney’s community-based arts council. She said council had already made its decision on this last year and now that the CRD bylaw passed, she wanted the money to stay with local arts groups.

Price added the Town is capable of doing both — supporting ArtSea to the tune of $15,000 and being a regional player at an increase of only $3.08 per household. Price, as CRD board chair, had voted against the arts service bylaw change, on direction of his council.

Council, however, didn’t agree with the mayor this week. In a narrow 4-3 vote, his motion to seek a referendum question was defeated.

Bremner-Mitchell’s motion to give the $15,000 to ArtSea, starting in 2019 when Sidney leaves the CRD arts service, passed in a 6-1 vote, Price being the lone dissenting voice.

More arts grants lost

The CRD’s arts service announced two new grant programs on Thurs., March 15 — equity grants for communities at risk of exclusion and incubator grants for arts organizations looking to accelerate their development or enhance their sustainability.

When Sidney formally withdraws from the CRD Arts Commission in 2019, groups based in the municipality would no longer be able to apply for those grants.

While not a formal member of the CRD Arts Commission, the District of North Saanich provides an annual donation in support of regional arts. The District of Central Saanich is not a Commission member.

Current regional arts service members are: Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Highlands, Metchosin, Sidney and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surge in requests for help, reports of sexual assault since #MeToo

Growing demand for Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic’s services in first year of #MeToo

Victoria among Top 10 sunniest Canadian cities

Victoria ranks 6th in sunny days per year

Growing numbers of Vancouver Islanders get flu shots

In 2017 alone, more than 240,000 people got vaccinated

Saanich homeless camp to voluntarily leave provincial land by Tuesday

‘If the province really wants to pick a fight with us, we may end up in John Horgan’s backyard,’ says camp leader Chrissy Brett

Vancouver Giants end Victoria Royals’ win streak

Victoria hockey club hosts defending champions Swift Current Wednesday night

Victoria teen suffers whiplash in school ‘bubble’ soccer game

Middle school students injured in teacher-student competition

Black Press to host extreme career fair in Victoria

The fair will run on Oct. 25 at the Bay Street Armoury

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Most Read