Washrooms in old town hall
are deplorable, say arts groups
By Liz Dadson
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The public washrooms in the Kincardine Arts Centre (old town hall building), are deplorable and the arts groups want Kincardine council to do something about these facilities.
Annette MacDonald of the Victoria Art Gallery, spoke to council in committee-of-the-whole last night (June 8), on behalf of all the tenants in the arts centre: Kincardine Theatre Guild, Bluewater Summer Playhouse, Kincardine Scottish Festival and the Kincardine Woodturners' Guild.
She said the washrooms are disgraceful and need to be renovated.
"They smell bad," she said. "We're asking you to clean them up."
The art gallery volunteers often have visitors asking where the public washrooms are, said MacDonald. Because of the construction, the only available facility is a portable washroom beside the arts centre.
"The two washrooms we have in the arts centre are the only ones downtown, in this a tourist town," she said. "There are also facilities at the Davidson Centre and at the beach, but that's a long way to go."
She said the maintenance man does his best to keep the washrooms clean, but they need a complete makeover.
Other concerns, said MacDonald, include new carpeting, painting and lighting in the Scougall Gallery; improved signage that is visible from the downtown area; and a rent adjustment due to the difficulties in keeping the gallery open during the restoration of the exterior of the building.
MacDonald said the tenants appreciate the work done to enhance the outside of the building, but they would like something done on the inside as well, particularly the washrooms.
As for signage, she said that the new wayfinding signs throughout the downtown are great. However, there is no mention of the art gallery on any of them. And some of the signs are beside trees and cannot be seen clearly, she said.
Regarding the rent, MacDonald said the art gallery faced huge challenges trying to remain open during construction, and lost quite a bit of business during the 10 months of renovation.
A portion of the proceeds from artwork sales goes toward scholarships for Kincardine District Secondary School students who are pursuing post-secondary school in the arts, said MacDonald.
The art gallery group also paid for carpets, renovations, lighting and painting to ensure the art gallery is an attractive, welcoming facility for the community. And local artists paid for the banners that enhance the downtown streets.
MacDonald said the arts groups appreciate the work done to restore the old town hall building, and commend the construction workers who were terrific during difficult weather conditions. Now, council must attend to the washrooms.
Councillor Kenneth Craig, policy chairman for the recreation department in charge of the arts centre building, said the need for improvements to the inside has been identified for a number of years.
He said the municipality has a mandate to provide support to the arts and cultural activities in Kincardine.
"As policy chairman, I am willing to sit down with the users of 707 Queen St., have a good discussion, and bring a recommendation to council," said Craig.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert showed photos of the poor condition of the downtown public washrooms.
"Besides nuclear, our main industries in Kincardine are tourism and agriculture," she said. "I find it odd that we don't have adequate washrooms for tourists. We need better management of this building. Let's get these washrooms up and running, not send our visitors to portable toilets."
Steve Murray, economic development and tourism manager, said the washrooms have been out of commission because they are in the construction zone. However, the work should be done in two weeks and everything will be cleaned up.
As for the new wayfinding signs being too close to trees, he said he identified one by the old LCBO store where the tree has to be trimmed and it will be, so the sign shows.
Annette MacDonald speaks to council
"We checked with our horticulturalist and she said there is no problem with the positioning of the signs with the trees," said Murray. "And we had to check with the downtown businesses that the signs weren't in their way either."
Back to the washrooms, Faubert asked if there was a reserve fund to draw money from in order to fix up the facilities.
Councillor Maureen Couture said the arts centre deserves to be upgraded on the inside, including improved heating and electrical systems. "There's enough in the arts centre reserve fund to do all of that work," she said. "I agree the washrooms should be renovated and quickly."
"That tree by the LCBO would have to be two inches off the ground before you could see the sign," said councillor Mike Leggett. "You need to move the sign further to the west."
Regarding criteria for the wayfinding signs, Murray said they are directed at drivers who are travelling at 30-40 km/h. Plus, the size of the signs allowed for only so much space and so many characters.
MacDonald said the art gallery was never asked if it wanted to be included on these signs. "We weren't even aware the signs were being made."As to the rent adjustment, Couture reiterated what she said before that construction work upsets regular operation of a building which is to be expected, and no group should be compensated for that.
Council agreed to have Craig and his department meet with the tenants of the arts centre building and discuss all the issues that were brought forward.
However, it was also agreed that something must be done to fix up the existing public washrooms in that building in time for the Kincardine Scottish Festival on the July 1 weekend.
Chief administrative officer John deRosenroll will obtain bids for that work and bring a report back to council next week.
"Thank you for your attention and your support," said MacDonald.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011