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e-4315 (Culture and heritage)

Initiated by Robert Pingitore from Nobleton, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • The federal government understands that arts and culture strengthen our bonds and that infrastructure improvements enable strong, dynamic and prosperous communities;
  • That’s why it invested in Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre - a key cultural centre that contributes to the vitality of Toronto’s waterfront and is an annual destination for five million visitors from across Canada and the world;
  • On August 21, 2021, the government announced that Heritage Canada would provide $20 million to Harbourfront Centre over two years for urgent capital work;
  • The investment was to be used for priority capital improvements and repairs to update performance spaces and venues, supporting access to arts, culture, and recreation, providing opportunities to showcase Canadian diversity and richness;
  • The Centre regarded the funding as a significant capital investment vital to its continued hosting of a diverse range of artists and communities for almost fifty years and entertaining the public on Toronto's waterfront; and
  • Work on the Harbourfront ice skating facility, intended to be repaired and upgraded, did not happen. Instead, this major attraction for community residents and visitors for decades, was ripped up without public consultation.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to
1. Undertake a review of its financial commitment to Harbourfront Centre and its obligations;
2. Advise the Centre that it has deviated from its initial goals; and
3. Request that the Centre consult area residents on its new priorities and how it can maintain the skating facility.

Response by the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Chris Bittle

Budget 2021 included an investment of $500 million over two years for the Recovery Fund for Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sport Sectors, and the Reopening Fund to help the sector return to its pre-pandemic strength. Substantial portions of these funds were invested in the live arts presentation sector, community festivals, performing arts organizations, and music. 

As part of the Recovery Fund for the Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors under Budget 2021, $20 million was awarded to Harbourfront Centre for capital infrastructure work over two years (2021-2023). This funding sought to address urgent capital improvements and repairs to update performance spaces and venues, address health and safety elements to welcome back artists, visitors, audiences and staff, provide greater accessibility throughout the site, and achieve reductions in energy and water use targeting future zero carbon levels, as well to continue urgent capital repairs. The contribution agreement for these funds was signed on August 18, 2021.

Following an interim report from Harbourfront Centre on October 4, 2022, an amendment was made to the agreement to reflect changes to the schedule and project list, signed November 10, 2022. These updates respect its contribution agreement requirements, fiscal responsibility towards the project and represent good stewardship of public funds.

As an independent not-for-profit organization, Harbourfront Centre is responsible for setting priorities for its ongoing infrastructure projects and making its own decisions accordingly. There is not a public consultative requirement as part of the contribution agreement between PCH and Harbourfront Centre.

PCH will continue to work closely with Harbourfront Centre to receive regular updates on the infrastructure projects outlined in the agreement, along with the important programs and services that the organization continues to deliver alongside its cultural and community partners. 

Open for signature
February 20, 2023, at 12:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 22, 2023, at 12:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Kevin Vuong (Spadina—Fort York)
March 31, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01275)
Government response tabled
May 15, 2023
Photo - Kevin Vuong
Spadina—Fort York