The historic Montgomery’s Inn is off the city’s chopping block — at least for now, says the chair of the advocacy group Montgomery’s INNovators, Janice Etter.
“Now we’re in for the long haul,” she said about the city-owned museum.
The INNovators, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization, was formed this spring as part of an ongoing initiative to increase the number of visitors to the site.
Following the city’s core service review, the idea of closing four of the city’s 10 museums was discussed at council. The closures would result in savings of $1 million a year for the city, according to reports.
However, when Toronto’s proposed budget for 2012 was released on Nov. 28, it still included funding for all 10 museums.
While that may come as a relief to some supporters of the museum there are others, such as Ward 4 councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, who insists the Inn is not in the clear yet.
“I hope it’s off the chopping block, but I want it to be off not just for this year,” Luby said. “It is too important a community resource.”
According to Lindsay Luby, the benefits in saving the museum outweigh the savings in closing it. She said the inn is not only visited by those interested in its museum aspect, but also by local community groups that rent out space for meetings.
When Montgomery’s Inn was built around 1830 by Irish immigrants Thomas and Margaret Montgomery it was surrounded by farms. Now, 15,000 of the 35,000 who come to the inn each year come for the farmers’ market.
Etter said the inn is used more as a community centre than a museum.
“There are only two museums that are really tourist attractions and those are Fort York and Spadina (House),” Etter said. “The others are all community museums and by definition they involve their communities and they are community facilities.”
The four museums rumoured to be considered for closure were the Montgomery Inn, Gibson House, Zion Schoolhouse and the Market Gallery.
Part of the reason these museums were on the chopping block could be due to the way traffic at the museums is calculated. Etter said only casual visitors, those who request tours, are counted in the museums’ visitor tally and not people coming in to attend meetings in rented spaces.
“We’re not on the tourist trail so casual visitors are low,” she said. “Other numbers are obviously much higher, like special events and things like that.”
The inn’s annual expenditures typically amount to $500,000 said Etter, but according to Luby, there are ways other than closures to inject that money back into the city’s budget.
“What you need to do is keep the revenues we have, which is the land transfer tax and other different user fees, property tax increases,” Lindsay Luby said. “We don’t need to lose services because people are really irate.”
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