Firefighters Museum Update

A memo to Council from Brian Geerts, Director of Community Services, at the Committee of the Whole Council meeting on June 5 will provide an update on what’s happening to the Memorial Arena. In April 2021, an Ad Hoc committee was set up to explore options for what should be done with the Memorial Arena which had been closed in 2019. The first choice was to lease it to the Firefighters Museum which had previously been located in Port Hope. The museum opened in 1984 and closed in 2018 and has been on hold pending finding a new location. Meanwhile, their Facebook page is quite active and they recently announced that “we are now looking seriously at this unused arena in Cobourg as our potential new home”.

Announcement by Brian Geerts

Memorial Arena
Memorial Arena

Brian’s Memo includes a lot of detail about Museums but the project update is in this paragraph:

The Memorial Arena remains closed to the public. It is currently used for storage and police training activities. The Canadian Fire Fighter’s Museum has done all the preliminary investigations they can do with intermittent access to the building. The next step in the development of the site is detailed design and initial fundraising and research. As this design and fundraising work progresses, staff will continue development of an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding for long-term use of the site, including the transition to exclusive use and transition of operating costs to the Canadian Fire Fighter’s Museum as sole operator.

Also, Brian is asking Council to approve “the non-exclusive temporary use (up to 12 months) of the Memorial Arena by the Canadian Fire Fighter’s Museum for in-depth non-destructive engineering and architectural work for the purposes of determining detailed plans for museum development”. He is also asking that Council approve their non-exclusive temporary use for fund-raising meetings, tours, and activities for the purpose of generating funds to finance future lease-hold improvements for the site.

Comments by the Firefighters Museum

We are gathering quotes to see what it would cost to make it usable for our purposes and negotiating with Cobourg over the conditions of a lease. At 30,000 sq. ft. it is the right size, but it will require quite a few upgrades to become a museum, open to the public. Wish us luck and stay tuned for more information. If this goes ahead we will need a lot of help and support to get it off the ground.

If this Museum does succeed in re-opening in Cobourg, it will join several others. More about Cobourg’s Museums here.

Resources

Previous Posts/Documents on this project

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Old Sailor
8 months ago

Per the presentation letter above the Museum is completely dependent on future grant successes and wants a guaranteed 10 to 20 year lesse. As well they want the first 1-3 years rent free.

This kind of sounds like a Legacy Gift from the last Council. A potential albatross around Cobourg’s neck. Hard to imagine this was the best offer made for the use of those premises.

Bryan
Reply to  Old Sailor
8 months ago

Old Sailor,
I don’t think much thinking (creative or otherwise) went into this. The project was simply put out to RFP and there were only 2 replies. Perhaps the Town should just walk away turn the project over to the new EcDev manager. Perhaps he can come up with some better ideas and bring interesting prospects to the table.

It appears that the CFFM is playing hard-ball with the Town. I don’t object to hard-ball negotiating. It’s just that it’s not an even match. History strongly suggests that the Town is a push-over. Hopefully Lucas, as the Corporation’s (Town’s) CEO is taking an active role.

The Town should be wary of the CFFM’s financial history (questionable??) and resources. Claims that the CFFM will be a “huge” tourist draw should treated with skepticism. Past performance claims (numbers) should be properly vetted by someone with solid financial analysis experience.

Last edited 8 months ago by Bryan
Twopenniesworth
8 months ago

I feel this use of the Memorial Arena is a wasted chance to do something for the people of
Cobourg…a perfect youth centre…a sports hall…year round indoor market…
Uses much better than an already failed Firefighters museum…I’d be surprised if it got more
than a dozen visits a week…happy to be proven wrong but still think the totally wrong decision.

Newbie
Reply to  Twopenniesworth
8 months ago

I like the year round indoor market idea!

Rob
Reply to  Twopenniesworth
8 months ago

I agree. I think the museum was a hasty idea lacking creativity or critical thought. It wasn’t evaluated against a fulsome vision for the Tannery District, what the surrounding neighbourhood needs, how to develop a thriving and active community, creating something special and unique. There is little appreciation and a concerning level of carelessness for these rare opportunities – you don’t get a do over when building a community.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
8 months ago

Rob, the alternative, suggested by some, of a homeless shelter or allowing a shanty town in the arena parking lot does not seem conducive to building a desirable community. I prefer a firefighter museum to that!

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 months ago

Your post would suggest there are only two alternatives…why the self imposed limitation?

Rob
Reply to  Rob
8 months ago

This rush to make a decision is the same thinking that we saw by Council with the Hibernia Street property (the old West high school) … individualistic agendas being aggressively pushed through without serious thought, consultation or a vision for what this incredibly rare, waterfront property could be. Affordable housing on one of the last pieces of waterfront property available in Town? Give me a break….

Sandpiper
8 months ago

Its also on / close to the Buss route we don’t have just down the road from the Hospital
and the Police Dept could still find storage space there and hang out as a visual deterrent
like they do at the Beach area .

What is the Proposed rent from the firemen anyone really know ?? I hope its Market rates
for the Tax Payers sake .

cornbread
8 months ago

I would like Cobourg Council to confirm that not one red cent of taxpayer money be put into this project.

Gerinator
Reply to  cornbread
8 months ago

As would I.

Sandpiper
8 months ago

This was the most ridiculous decision every made by Council in a time of need for so many
It is and was perfect for the Homeless shelters not expensive Tiny Homes out on the parking lot .
Hydro , water , sewers , Wash rooms all in place plus a Canteen kitchen and eating area .
May be even usable as a addition to the Food Bank & Transition House –It would be fast to turn around and put to use for many still out on the street , the safe injection site would have offices and a roof by now .
and some thing would have been accomplished .
This Fire mans Hobby was always looking for Money & Handouts in Port Hope and really gave back nothing in return . It was seldom visited and certainly not self sustaining over the years
it was a real Quandary as to why Council wanted such an attraction up there for any reason other than to
take the topic of SHELTER off the discussion table as quickly as possible !

Merle Gingrich
Reply to  Sandpiper
8 months ago

I conquer completely with Sandpiper. Police training? It’s all there.

Helen Carmel
Reply to  Sandpiper
8 months ago

I totally concur with Sandpiper, what a total waste when this arena could have been utilized for the homeless. And like Cornbread, I hope taxpayers are not footing the bill for this project.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Sandpiper
8 months ago

Sandpiper, using Memorial Arena as a homeless shelter and safe injection site would remove many of the vagrants from your neighbourhood. Do I sense some self interest in your proposal?

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ken Strauss
8 months ago

Ken I am from Business back ground such as yourself
I am happy to say that I have
No Self interest here at all But time is money and people are suffering
when a solution temporary or other wise is at hand Now .
Just Common sense— and besides that I am Tired of Pay cheque politicians chasing the same dam chickens around the Barn Yard / Town Hall for for all these years Pretending they are actually accomplishing something If we had to pay these decision makers by the hour
to conclude and actually accomplish something This town would go under.

Cobourg taxpayer
8 months ago

Years ago we visited the Firefighters Museum in Port Hope. I felt they needed a bigger space to showcase their equipment. I’ve never been in Memorial Arena but feel it’s a shame to be sitting vacant for so long. Good luck to CFFM and I hope it works out for them to occupy this space. This would discourage other uses one of which was proposed recently in the parking lot and was opposed by the neighborhood.

Rob
8 months ago

On the surface, putting the museum in the Memorial Arena appears to be like attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole. Smallish, multilevel building, requiring a very considerable amount of engineering work located in a current residential neighbourhood and on the fringe of what could be an amazing multiuse business/recreational and residential development (Tannery District). I support firefighters and have some that I would call friends, but this is a white elephant. Why not buy the land on Elgin (literally next door to the fire hall) and build a proper building.