MoneySense or Cultural NonSense?


Aurora was added to MoneySense's 2012 edition of their Canada's Best Places to Live report:

Aurora ranked 48th out of 190 "cities", even though it is not one itself.

Newmarket, our neighbour to the north came in at a more impressive 13th place, up from the 20's.

Toronto beat out Aurora by one, propelling itself up from a weak score of 80 something last year.

The methadology behind the ranking system is laid out here:

Curious to know what role "culture" had to play in Aurora's ranking I found that in reviewing this methodology there was entire section devoted for "culture", albeit the definition of "culture" differs from what Aurora's "Cultural" Centre adheres to.

A city could receive up to 5 points based on the percentage of people employed in arts, culture, recreation and sports. 

A comment left on the MoneySense sight argues, correctly in my view, how inappropriate it is to judge cultural richness based solely upon employment statistics.


Why look at the number of people employed in the fields of arts, sports, etc.? Is employment really a good indicator of a city's cultural richness. I bet there are plenty of cities where relatively few people actually work in these fields but where a huge number of people actively participate in cultural activities. An area with a large Native community or a particularly high number of immigrants will often have an enormous number of cultural events, unique community facilities, etc. But few of the people in the area will actually be employed in these endeavours. 

What is even more revealing about the whole report is to read that the source of the data is the 2006 Census, placing the data at over 6 years old!

Meaning that if you believe that Aurora ranked 17 out of 190 cities with respect to "culture" it did so before the Culture Club ever opened its doors.  

It achieved that ranking with respect to equal weighting between arts, culture, recreation and sports.

Cultural mapping is important, and a much more accurate way of determining a town or city's strengths and weaknesses.

Toronto and Newmarket have embarked on that endeavour.

While here in Aurora we are witnessing a barrage of meetings aimed as a rescue effort to a Cultural Services Agreement that is clearly only serving one party.

Saving the current Cultural Services Agreement by patching it up with band-aids is not the answer.

It was built with unnecessary speed and exercising the least amount of strategy.

Those that envisioned and committed to a self sustaining operation cannot say that the Aurora "Cultural" Centre is "exceeding" expectations.  

It has failing to meet them through iincompetence and continued miscommunication.

Some sort of announcement regarding changes to the Cultural Services Contract was supposed to be delivered today.

Unsure what it would contain, why or where it would be released.

If it is the town's intent, through this negotiation exercise to continue to hand over in excess of $500,000 a year until the contract expires than there really is only one change required in the Cultural Services Agreement:

Lower the community's expectations of the Cultural Centre.

After all they aren't instrumental in making Aurora one of the best places to live.

Watts on your mind?

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