City gives gallery thousands

The Penticton Art Gallery has been granted relief from the costs associated with four separate break-ins in recent months. 

City council heard their request for financial help Tuesday, requesting close to $29,000. Currently, the gallery operates on city-owned land through a lease which expires in October 2019. Under the lease terms, the gallery is responsible for maintenance to the building, and is not required to step in with financial aid. 

Options before council included a denial of funding, a small portion of funding, 50 per cent of funding and full funding.

“I’m just curious, why does insurance not pay for the break-in problems?” asked councillor Katie Robinson.

“We had four break-in attempts at the gallery. The deductible was far higher than the original theft, the other expenses all incurred on upgrading security measures on the gallery, the doors, the roof, every time they got in it was through different means,” gallery director and curator Paul Crawford explained.

Councillor Jake Kimberley spoke up to support full funding. 

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that penalties should be put on them for the break-ins that have occurred,” he said. 

Mayor John Vassilaki agreed. 

"It’s very, very important for the city culturally, for one thing,” Vassilaki said. “It’s one of our facilities, and if we allow it to go to disrepair and not improve on what’s happening al over British Columbia and Canada where there’s a lot of bad people around who cause damages to municipalities and non-profit groups, I think the onus is on us to take care of it as we do all our other facilities.”

Some members of council worried that paying the full amount would set a bad precedent for other organizations operating in city-owned facilities to come knocking for cash. Robinson pointed out their lease agreement with the gallery is up for review in September. 

"Right now, I’m looking for a bandaid to get us to where we need to be so we can review this properly, and I don’t feel comfortable with 100 per cent,” Robinson said. “It sets a really bad precedent, we have so many other facilities that all need the same kind of attention.”

Councillor Julius Bloomfield pointed out that the nearly $29,000 funding request actually included $5,500 for a new boiler, which was unrelated to the thefts. He suggested a compromise, that council fund the cost of the break-ins and security upgrades, but not the boiler, which falls under maintenance and is therefore the gallery's responsibility. 

That brought the total proposed contribution from the city to $23,463.94. The motion passed unanimously. 

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