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Letter to the Editor: Plebiscite needed PDF Print E-mail

BY A.D. CROOKES, THE STARPHOENIX FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Regarding headline in the story, Mendel move supported (SP, Feb. 16, one wonders what the criteria was for the people who were contacted. If council is so sure that everybody is in agreement with this survey, why not put it to a plebiscite during the election?

I, for one, would not vote in favour of the move. When it comes down to federal money, I am sure that different departments have money floating around for the extension of the existing Mendel Art Gallery.

There is talk of whether to charge admission to the proposed new gallery, which would make it pretty expensive when you consider the underground parking, whereas there is plenty of free parking across the road from the Mendel. Come on, council, get off your butts and let's have a plebiscite.

A.D. Crookes Saskatoon

 
Letter to the Editor: Questionable Poll PDF Print E-mail

BY CYNTHIA VAN SETERS, THE STARPHOENIX FEBRUARY 24, 2012

Re: Mendel move supported (SP, Feb. 16).

I just wonder what the response would have been like if poll takers were included the question as to whether the renovation of the existing Mendel Art Gallery would be a positive step for Saskatoon?

I suspect we would have seen a similar positive response - perhaps even greater.

I am actually a little insulted at the question that was asked because it doesn't really prove anything except how poll questions can be composed to give the answer you want.

Cynthia van Seters Saskatoon

 
Letter to the Editor: Devoid of beauty PDF Print E-mail

BY KAREN PUGH, THE STARPHOENIX JANUARY 30, 2012

In the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, it took a child to point out the obvious.

Keeping this tale in mind, let's see the proposed Remai gallery for what it will really will look like: Not an attractive accessory dressing up our south downtown, but more like an industrial car park, devoid of any esthetic value.

Canadian Architect Magazine has given this building an award. If this soulless structure is what passes for good design, it just demonstrates that, like the compliments from the emperor's fawning courtiers in the fable, you cannot trust the experts.

 
Letter to the Editor: Feelings Clear PDF Print E-mail

StarPhoenix January 20, 2012

Re: Wide opposition (SP, Jan. 17). I want to thank David Geary for his cogent letter regarding the lack of community support for the new Remai Art Gallery at River Landing. He expresses the frustration so many of us feel about Mayor Don Atchison's obvious "edifice complex."

Unfortunately, it won't be long until Geary is publicly labelled a braying ass, an ignorant radical or a whiner, as have the other concerned citizens who dared to question this council's abandonment of Fred Mendel's legacy. I try to avoid watching television coverage of the new gallery, because thinking about this terrible mistake still makes me feel sick. However, I couldn't help but notice the poor turnout at the city's recent open house at TCU Place to view the detailed drawings of the Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan.

There appears to be very little interest in the expensive new edifice.

Margi Corbett Saskatoon

 
Letter to the Editor: Lacking Integrity PDF Print E-mail

BY ROBERT S. HAMPTON, THE STARPHOENIX FEBRUARY 23, 2012

Nothing can be more polarizing in a community than an issue that is viewed as a wrong that also belittles the legacy of a civic legend. Such is the essence of the Mendel Art Gallery issue. There never was a debate or discussion - everything was decided behind closed doors by those wishing to create their own legacy.

Now these same supporters of the Mendel's demise have spent $23,000 for a poll justifying a new gallery.

 
Letter to the Editor: Mendel top story PDF Print E-mail

BY GORDON AND MARCIA BRUCE, THE STARPHOENIX FEBRUARY 2, 2012

Unfortunately, the closure of the Mendel Art Gallery did not make it as Saskatoon's top story of 2011. We think it's not only the top story of the year, but also the most upsetting.

This story represents how little the city's administration values public opinion. Had they been paying attention to the letters to the editor, councillors would have certainly noticed that almost all did not support the move.

Without Fred Mendel would we ever have had a major art gallery? His contributions in today's dollars would easily equal the Remai donation. But this seems to mean nothing.

 
Letter to the Editor: Wide opposition PDF Print E-mail

The StarPhoenix January 17, 2012
 
The article, Gallery design earns national award (SP, Dec. 17) states that "a group continues to oppose" the controversial new gallery.
It isn't a "group," but the majority of the public that has always seemed opposed. In 2009, 60 per cent of those responding to a StarPhoenix question online were against building a new gallery. Respondents to surveys by NewsTalk Radio (78 per cent) and C95 (88 per cent) also were opposed. There continue to be critical letters to The SP regarding the proposed gallery.

After the Remai gallery concept was unveiled in 2011, 26 comments were posted on the Mendel Gallery's Facebook page, of which 20 were critical of the new gallery. A Save the Mendel website has logged 2,200 statements that express similar sentiments. These continue to be added from Saskatonians and people across Canada concerned with the perceived cultural hijacking of the Mendel legacy.

By comparison, those pushing for the gallery's relocation and renaming are small in number. They consist of a few politicians and their friends who have engineered the move to suit a certain agenda, which seems to be to fill the River Landing area with large buildings. It's a classic example of "edifice complex" - defined at jargondatabase.com as "the tendency of politicians to have large buildings and stadiums built as a concrete reminder of their 'legacy.' "

Unfortunately, it's taxpayers who will pay 80 per cent of the cost of the proposed gallery. It's no wonder there's so much opposition.

David Geary, Saskatoon

 
Letter to the Editor: The Mendel Collection PDF Print E-mail

(Ed: Although sent to the editor, this letter never appeared in the Star-Phoenix after Mr. Mitchell declined an interview.)

The Remai gift of  $30 million which breaks down as $15 million for construction of the "Remai Gallery" plus $500,000 a year for 30 years although generous comes with a big price tag in terms of donors thinking their gift has any "Perpetuity".

The truth is if you take all the money and support from my family and our business to the creation, founding and maintenance of the gallery over the past 50 odd years along with the value of the art work and convert them into today's 2011 dollars then project the value of the artwork ahead 30 years given past performance, I am guessing the Mendel gift would still far exceed the projected Remai $30,000,000 dollars in the year 2041 which is when the Remai gift would be completed. Does this mean that as of 2041 the Remai name on the gallery will be up for grabs as well? What are the conditions of this deal? It will be interesting to see what will happen to that choice piece of waterfront property stretching over a half kilometer along the waterfront which is currently occupied by The Mendel Art Gallery, not to mention the building which is esteemed by many to be the best example of mid-Century architecture in the province?

 
Letter to the Editor: Memory problems PDF Print E-mail

The StarPhoenix January 10, 2012

J.C. Rayner's letter, Show the reports (SP, Nov. 30), noted the lack of a report detailing the economics of the wind turbine project. The city's approach on the new art gallery is no different, with Don Atchison stating in October: "The federal government was not willing to fund expansion of the existing gallery." The paper to back up that statement has never been produced either. The mayor went on to say, "That meant an earlier renovation project (with the Mendel) could not proceed. The dollars weren't in place."

Curiously, when the decision was made to proceed with the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan, not only is money found but a hotshot fundraiser, too. In the Oct. 26 article Atchison mentions "a $71 million gallery for Saskatoon," yet city manager Murray Totland says on Nov. 24 that the gallery's price is $84 million - the figure first quoted in May 26, when the design was unveiled.

Has Mayor Atchison forgotten?

Should we also forget a potential conflict of interest of a previous Mendel board member, who was appointed to the gallery's board in 2006, made its chair in 2007 and then appointed to sit on the Destination Centre Steering Committee in 2008 - a year before the board decided to make the move to River Landing?

Flo Saworski (End council follies, SP, Jan. 6) isn't the only one who wonders if our mayor has a convenient memory problem.

C.J. Cote Saskatoon

 
Letter to the Editor: End council follies PDF Print E-mail

The StarPhoenix January 6, 2012

I wonder if our mayor has a memory problem. Did he perhaps forget that there was a grant to fix the Mendel Art Gallery, which would have left the city with a smaller debt? Instead the city gets a larger grant and a bigger debt. Smart?

The future will reveal that this would have been the time Saskatoon could have had a secure financial future; but instead this will be looked at as the time the city's economy and essential services were destroyed in the name of progress. No one suggests that we should not expand. But it must be done in an orderly, cautious manner that does not destroy our quality of life. This council has done more to put a wedge between different economic groups than any other before it.

We need a solution: The mayor and councillors should cut their civic salaries by 50 per cent, thereby making up for some of their foolish blunders; senior staff at City Hall should have their salaries cut by 10 per cent because they, too, bear some of the responsibility. Further, let’s slow down and play catch up. Finish what is started and give the beleaguered taxpayers a break.

Perhaps when we go back to the ballot box in October we can rescue ourselves.

Flo Saworski, Saskatoon

 
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