Although they are not officialy a line-item in the Town of Aurora’s budget the Aurora Historical Society is strangely afforded the same consideration in the town’s budget process as others that are: the Aurora Public Library which has a stringent process and the Aurora “Cultural” Centre which the town has a multi-year agreement in place.
Instead of a much-needed discussion that council recognized needed to take place they rubber stamped $70,000. This grant has inflated by $20,000 in 2 years while the town froze efforts to expand its own Museum & Archives.
$70,000 is nowhere close to the amount of $ needed to match the AHS’ lofty plans it brought to council of errecting a parking lot and reconstructing a rotting barn structure (think mini-Petch House) on the flodplain grounds of Hillary House. And you can be sure this money is peanuts when it comes to the actual $ needed to operate, let alone restore a National Historic site.
The AHS has already bemoaned the costs of hiring architects to draft a simple change of use permit required of them by law. Oh and the land they want to use to build a parking lot they expects the town to, in the words of their president “throw the deed” at them”.
Although they own the deed for Hillary House they have not conducted the best practices of a facilities assessment of the property.
Nor have they developed a sustainable business plan in place to operate it, instead they are putting the cart before the horse using one level of government to go begging upwards to another for even a larger bail-out.
For a group that has bitten off way more than it can chew on multiple occasions having to spit back at the town a Heritage Center and Aurora Collection it was unable to manage it appears a National Historic Site may be beyond their grasp too.
The repairs and rennovations that Hillary House requires are significant and in no way glamourous. It makes the rise of a snooty ball, they alone believe to be a “social event of the year”, appear not to be a fundraiser as much as a distraction.
Last year’s event took this to new heights with members of the society role playing as used car salesmen:
Yes the National Historic Site they own is in need of a lot of work and requires a serious plan to restore and operate with no commitment from the federal government but look, something shiny.
As touched on in their presentation to council, and reinforced in their annual general meeting this car isn’t being gifted to them, it will come at a cost and like all cars, purchase price is only one cost. How does the AHS expect to pay for the operation, care and storage of such an asset?
No business plan was advanced. Is there one?
What purpose will the car serve? It seems like an expensive acquisition to drag out once a year as a float in the town’s Canada Day parade as a way to shore up last year’s uninspired outing:
The elephant in the room is would the Historical Society even be entertaining taking on yet another outlandish expense if they weren’t receiving $70,000 a year from the town?
It’s not the Aurora Historical Society we need to be worried about firing on all cylinders, its council.
Mayor Dawe isn’t exactly quiet about his enthusiasm about classic cars:
One would hope after looking the car up and down he would actually look at the sticker price before enthusiasm gets the better of him reaching his hands further in our pockets to float a car loan to the AHS.
Like he did with the failed multi-million dollar Heritage Disneyland concept this same group proposed that ended up costing the town $20,000 in consulting fees to reject.