City issues ultimatum to Arts and Heritage
Vote against proposed agreement would see city take over heritage, culture
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
City council has issued an ultimatum to Arts and Heritage St. Albert — approve a proposal the city put forward two months ago or we’re taking over.
Councillors unanimously passed a list of options during an in camera meeting following its regular Monday city council meeting, giving city manager Patrick Draper a hefty club to wield in his negotiations with the foundation.
The first option passed states that if Arts and Heritage votes in favour of the city’s Nov. 15 draft partnership agreement, Draper will have the authority to finalize the agreement and begin a process to implement the agreement for April 1.
The last two options spell out what will happen if Arts and Heritage does not vote in favour of the city’s Nov. 15 agreement or if it doesn’t vote at all by Jan. 14 – in either case, Draper will “assume the management responsibility for the City’s historical and cultural assets and the development of a human resources plan.”
That move would strip Arts and Heritage of all its responsibilities for St. Albert’s cultural and heritage sites.
“The end of it was we’re ready to go to print with this thing and the board has not yet ratified it,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
Interim Arts and Heritage chair Brent Luepke declined to comment publicly on the city’s ultimatum but confirmed the board will meet on Thursday and that the agreement is on the agenda.
Arts and Heritage has been highly critical of the Nov. 15 draft partnership agreement, specifically of a proposed change in how the city would fund the group. Instead of issuing grants to Arts and Heritage as has been past practice, the city wants to use a fee-for-service approach in which the foundation receives money after it produces invoices.
Displeasure with that proposed change led to the resignation of former Arts and Heritage director Paul Moulton last month.
The old stewardship agreement was last extended until Jan. 14.
“People need certainty. Their staff need certainty,” said Crouse. “Sooner or later someone has to draw a date and say, ‘Let us decide.’ ”
Negotiations have been up and down since they began 18 months ago. The dispute has repeatedly spilled out into the public with both sides making their objections known. A renewed sense of hope in August after council voted to pursue a new agreement has since wasted away as both sides jockey over a funding model.
If the board needs a further extension or has a fourth option it wishes to discuss, Crouse said the city is willing to listen.
“I think there needs to be some closure for everyone,” Crouse said.