Gallery Lambton Moving Forward on Christina Street

Today was a big day for downtown Sarnia.  A large number of downtowners went to a council meeting where they were deciding the fate of the new Lambton Gallery project.  It’s been quite a long battle for some and we are thrilled that it went through.

Here is the observer article about the meeting.

What was most moving for me today thought was listening to person after person speak in front of council about their love for downtown, the art gallery and the culture down here.  There was passion in their voices.  There was excitement in the air.  It is pretty exciting to see a bunch of twenty somethings take ownership for their city.

This art gallery is a long term plan that will only bring more health to our city.  Integrating art with our children and into our culture is a crucial part of building healthy citizens that seek the welfare of the entire city not just their own backyard.  Many of the same people that fight for art in the city are the same ones that fight for the marginalized and advocate for those that don’t have a voice.  This isn’t meeting present needs of overnight housing like a homeless shelter would or safer streets like a stronger police for might; rather it is seeking to build a stronger foundation so homeless shelters and more security are things that are less needed.  These are long term goals, not short-sighted fixes.  This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with the short-term fixes, they are obviously needed, but they need to be balanced out with long term goals of justice, not temporary acts of mercy.

Giving the art gallery a prominent spot in the downtown, and giving them the opportunity to restore a historical building is a perfect fit.  Art is about restoring and displaying the beauty in things that most people would not see.  Restoring an old building to be a new gallery is art in itself and it needs to be upheld.  It would have been easy to spread out of the city, take over more farmland and build a box with some windows, but going this route is risky and brave, artsy and intentional and I think it is what cities are made out of.  It is when a city takes a risk on art when cultural centers start to thrive.

There is still quite a bit of opposition to the gallery, and much of it is about the amount of money spent.  I find this odd only because the large majority of money being spent isn’t really up for negotiation of to where it is allocated, rather it is either here for the arts or it isn’t.  We can either accept the free money from the federal government or we can turn it down.  There is another group of those that simply dislike the arts and they don’t want their tax dollars spent there because they don’t think they need it.  Which is fine, we all have to sacrifice a bit.  I for one do not think I need the police force and would prefer my tax dollars not spent to beef it up, after all they only give me parking tickets and cost me more money.

Good job today people.  It was an important day us all in seeing what a group of Sarnia citizens can accomplish when we really believe in something together.

7 Comments

  • I’m glad we’re finally trying to recover from the Hudson’s Bay disease.

  • Three corrections.

    Compared to the amount of people who are vocal about their support, the amount of people vocal (and educated) about their opposition number in the fewer numbers. I would say that if we’re actually talking about “most”, most don’t know about it (who live in the north end and watch CNN all day) and don’t really care to know.

    Also, the people who are opposed (the educated ones) are not necessarily opposed to the 3 million dollars from the federal government but any remaining totals that are not able to be fund raised and will be paid using tax money (kind of similar to the debate around the Olympics but minus a couple of zeros)

    Also, the Sarnia Police do not give out parking tickets. It is the Sarnia Parking Authority…they’re separate from the police…but I understand what you were trying to say.

    :-)

  • well said Nathan!! I pictured you right up there on that podium whilst reading ;) did you see that email from the operator of bayside saying that this move could be seen as racist against the muslim business people..ridiculous!!

  • I also was there at the county council meeting…I am not a 20 something but a 50 something nor do I live downtown but I still have the same passion for Sarnia’s Downtown…I also share in the greatness of all the younger downtown set speaking up…I felt like a proud mother.
    Now as far as the northenders we will need them and we will need to share our passion with them…Embrace them and bring them downtown…They have thicker wallets.

  • Stef, I didn’t mean to come across as if no one else was there, it was an obvious team effort of people and ages across the board. I guess I was just extra proud of my downtown comrades , I should have commented about how important it was that others have been paving the way for years for this to go through and it could not have been done without everyone there. I didn’t mean to make sides, I hope it didn’t come off that way.

    Dave, I get parking tickets from cops all the time, they give out tickets too. The reason I used the term “most” because I was reading the comments on the Observer article, and there was plenty of opposition on there. There is still plenty of people who oppose this thing, but you are right in that they just don’t care that much to really fight against it, just complain. You’re number two point, correction taken.

  • No Nathan I didn’t take it that way just wanted to let others know that downtown is treasured by others as well…As am proud of your comrades…As I told Bev youth might not be 50% of our population but you are 100% of our future…Thanks for spreading the news let’s keep it going as we have 3.5 million reasons to stay on top of this…I am looking forward to seeing what the creative juices in downtown will come up with to help raise this money…I know you all will do me proud.
    I will continue to work in the background as well…Nothing negative from me Nathan.

  • I totally get the entire “fit” thing that is going on in regards to restoring the old building and sure, while we are at, lets throw the art gallery in it.

    8.5 million I think is an outrageous amount of money.
    5.6 million to restore a building and the fact a Windsor outfit received the nod for the contract is even odder.

    I applaud the government for giving out the free money and applaud Lambton council for agreeing to use it.

    I think the government has done more than their fair share to:

    1) 2.4 million saved already
    2) 3.5 million from the fed

    This alone makes up a huge chunk of the funds.

    Here is where my criticism comes in. A 3.5 Million dollar campaign needs to be completed and only 100 thousand has trickled in.

    I think these “20 somethings” who I know to love and adore the downtown (and am rallying behind them) need to kick it into high gear.

    Its one thing to get signatures signed and attend a meeting from time to time but its another to put your money where you mouth is.

    If the downtown wants it, they are going to have to go and get it. To be honest, I am skeptical of it.

    Further more, since this project has such a price tag there will be many who cant wait for the 3.5 million to not come together and you can be sure there will be HUGE public outcry (me being one) if that money isn’t raised.

    I am not an artist, I appreciate art and I applaud the people of the downtown for their passion and enthusiasm however we cannot be so quick to bite the finger of those that feed them (Dave). Those north end living, CNN watching, tax paying people have more say over the money than anyone.

    As a tax payer (who contributed federally and provincially with taxes) thinks that especially in the type of economic downturn we are in the fund raising should be strong and united from the downtown and that the building should not be allowed to proceed until people have fund raised the rest instead of what I think will happen: that is, we’ll start strong, realize its too hard and then say “Lambton needs to step up and give more money.”

Join the Discussion