Robert Thomas

"I'm here to tell you like it is,” a 90 year Elizabeth DuSomme told Moose Jaw City Council, at the Council meeting on Monday, Feb 26.

DuSomme and Norma Westguard, chair of the Murals Management Committee, appeared before Council to request restoration of their funding. In their presentation, the two committee members stated the case for re-instating the annual grant of $12,900. The committee had their funding cut in last year’s budget, in response to the City’s fiscal constraints after massive unexpected cuts by the Province.

“If you took the murals away the tourists wouldn’t come here,” DuSomme told Council, going on to add “the City needs the murals. That committee needs to be there.”

Westguard agreed with DuSomme, stating the murals were seen as adding $2 million to the local economy.

“Trip Advisor says it is (viewing the murals) number four of 29 things to do in Moose Jaw,” Westguard stated.

Westguard told Council the murals were aging rapidly and the funds were needed to maintain them under Bylaw 5375. The Bylaw – Murals Project Management Bylaw - established the committee in the late 1980’s to commission, maintain and promote the murals. The murals project was started as an economic development project to increase tourism and was modelled upon the success of murals in Chemainus, British Columbia.

Westguard said the money was used to produce 7500 to 8000 brochures to promote the murals, plus “a long term vision for the repair and maintenance of the murals.”

Under questioning from Councillor Chris Warren, as to whether or not the committee had looked into fundraising, Westguard replied “funding isn't in our mandate.” 

Council was also told by Ted Schaeffer, director of Parks and Recreation, that a mistake had been made in the budgeting process and the murals board was mistakenly omitted.

“Somehow the request got lost somewhere along the way,” Schaeffer said about the Murals Management Committee’s budget request.

“It was a miscommunication or a misfiling in our department,” he stated.

The request was not put forward during the departmental budget presentations to the Budget Committee.

Councillor Don Mitchell, Council’s representative on the committee, told Council that funding last year was cut because of the Province’s cutbacks and the committee had a reserve fund. He described the murals group as maintaining a significant community resource without remuneration. “The fact money is in a reserve is to their credit,” Coun Mitchell stated.

Councillor Dawn Luhning said she was unaware the group was responsible for printing the brochures and would support granting them funding.

Whether or not the committee receives funding, as the budget was not finalized as expected when increased water and sewer rates fell later in what was expected to be a formality. 




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