Aurora’s low effort “deck the halls tour” of getting people to drive around town was recently announced. No surprise the Town of Aurora is 12 years late to the party as Uxbridge has been doing their fantasy of lights for 13 years.
At least this season the town of Aurora decided to finally update its decrepit downtown Christmas lighting decorations.
I suspect the old ones were from the 90s so they didn’t owe anyone anything, and given the years of abuse and the fact they were not replaced sooner by councils who failed to replace them sooner I suspect there was little remaining that could be re-used or recycled from them.
Installing these abominations for the past 10 years just made the town look incredibly dated so I’m all for a refresh but did they really have to choose the exact same ones as Richmond Hill?
Anna over at Living in Aurora posted 2 photos for sake of comparison and you can’t tell the difference between us and our southern neighbours.
What does this say about celebrating the uniqueness of each of these two municipalities?
Did the town of Aurora make this decision solely so they could piggyback on RichmondHill’s purchase to get a deal?
Well the price that Anna found is a little high at first glance for what we got:
I counted 17 a side or 34 in total would put these snowflakes at over $1000 each.
At this price point one would assume includes installation but I doubt it, I suspect that falls onto town staff. The bigger question is does it include warranty as I counted 5 of them were not lit.
Not a surprise given the town of Aurora has shown it is incapable of maintaining lit message board signs it owns and operates around the town but a 15% failure rate on a newly installed product? How is this acceptable, or even possible if these same lights have been tested and installed in Richmond Hill?
Why would the town sole source this purchase? What is proprietary about these snowflakes, and why would this outfit be the only one able to meet the requirements to install such a basic decoration?
With all the #shoplocal chorus were these lights made locally? In Aurora? In Ontario? In Canada even? Where did this near $40,000 go? Out of Aurora most likely.
Let’s circle back to Uxbridge. Unlike Aurora they have done a fantastic job of lighting up their downtown without using proprietary and faulty technology. If you aren’t making a trip sue to the pandemic then check out this video:
Back in October 2016 these enhancements and their maintenance was discussed in Shane MacDonald’s piece with the town’s BIA proposing these lights with a costing of $20,000.
Note one more glaring difference here, this isn’t paid by the town of Uxbridge. It is their BIA, which is also responsible for beautification of their area including banner and flowers too. Unlike Aurora’s BIA Uxbridge’s BIA lists out their agendas and minutes so we can actually dig a little deeper and see how their spend stacks up to the almost $40,000 Aurora spent.
In slide 12 of their 2015 budget it shows a total of $5565 spent.
In 2017 it shows $9,500
In 2018 it shows $10,000
In 2019 it reads as $15,809
So instead of an upfront cost there appears to be an average annual cost in the $12,000 range. So where Aurora’s total cost will go down in comparison after the 3rd year we really are comparing apples and oranges when it comes to impact.
Uxbridge’s effort really does improve it’s business area.
So the real question is was Aurora’s downtown BIA involved in the decision of our new snowflakes?
Why was this improvement to the town’s BIA paid for a separate line item in the budget, and not by the BIA’s budget?
Perhaps if the Aurora BIA was involved they could have advanced a solution that had buy in from the businesses in the area, were paid for and maintained by said businesses as is best practices by municipalities that have BIAs and even could have had these decorations sourced, built and installed locally. Aurora could have had something unique that we are proud of instead of yet another bland symbol.
But then again given how missing in action our BIA has been during this pandemic I’m not convinced they are capable of such responsibility.
This whole exercise, like the previous post about the Aurora Chamber of Commerce only serves to reinforce just how much “working together to get things done” is an empty political slogan.
What we are left with are expensive snowflakes that do nothing to make us #AuroraProud.