Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly says she has confirmed that there never was a formal application for funding for the Ancaster Arts Centre. Skelly took a lot of heat from Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson last year when it was announced that the $3 Million pledged for the project by the Wynne Liberals was not going to flow. In a news release Skelly says the funding announcement was one of a number of last-ditch announcements made prior to the last provincial election—most of which did not have a source of funding attached. The release continued, “Typically an organization seeking government funding submits an application to a ministry under an established program. The money flows if the application is approved. Skelly says other than a picture of the proposed Arts Centre in a budget handout, there was no specific reference to a dollar amount in the budget, nor a ministry source for the funding. Skelly says her suspicions that the announcement was nothing more than an election promise were confirmed this month when the City of Hamilton, via email correspondence indicated that staff had never submitted an application for the funds. Skelly says staff at the Ancaster Arts Centre also verified they too did not submit an application. Skelly says this proves the province did not cut funding to the Ancaster Arts Centre because no application had ever been submitted. The Bay Observer independently confirmed with the Arts Centre backers that they did not file an application for funding, apparently believing the announcement by former MPP Ted McMeekin would suffice in securing the funds.
The funding pullback angered Ferguson who, calling Skelly a project-killer, promised not to invite the MPP for opening night when the facility hosts its first show. Skelly says she has been and will continue to work with the Ancaster Arts Centre in hopes of identifying future sources of government support in hopes of making the Centre a vibrant and sustainable community destination. Since the funding controversy arose it was revealed the project had run into significant cost overruns—ballooning from $14 Million to $22 Million—a $7 Million jump or 50 percent.