Bringing down the costly curtain on CEI

It had all the makings of a theatrical tragedy tinged with shades of ironic comedy.

First act:

Kitchener councillors this week heard a passionate appeal from the Multicultural Theatre Space, one of our most talented local theatre companies, asking us to reconsider a decision to grant the group $13,313 in 2016. MT Space asked for an additional $18,687 and, instead,  councillors agreed to a $10,000 increase for 2016.

Act 2:

A few hours later, councillors considered a funding request from the Creative Enterprise Initiative, an over-inflated, arts-culture organization, to phase out its unsuccessful and expensive project in 2016.
The powerful, well-heeled CEI requested and received $46,000 from Kitchener.

I unsuccessfully argued against yet another CEI grant and pointed out that, during its 2016 last gasp, CEI will pay $265, 500 to six staff members and assorted writers, a bloated, unnecessary cost that forms part of its outrageous $317,205 budget.
Then, in an absolutely gobsmacking 6-5 vote, our mayor and five councillors — during penny-pinching municipal budget time — supported the full $46,000 grant.

In doing so, councillors dumped a proposal by Coun. Paul Singh that we reduce the CEI grant in order to make more prudent use of taxpayer cash by helping MT Space and similar small organizations that CEI was originally supposed to help.

Those voting in favour of the grant: Mayor Berry Vrbanovic along with Couns. Sarah Marsh, John Gazzola, Bil Ioannidis, Yvonne Fernandes and Kelly Galloway-Seacock. Those who voted with me to slash the grant: Couns. Singh, Scott Davey, Dave Schnider and Zyg Janecki.

Final act:

The same day, Waterloo councillors voted to cut CEI’s $45,000 grant by $12, 000 in 2016. Regional councillors then agreed to give CEI a staggering $141,000 to phase out a failed project that has cost taxpayers at least $1 million since it was formed in 2010.

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