LETTER: Possible closure of Mill of Kintail museum

I read the recent Millstone article on the possible closure of the Mill of Kintail Museum with dismay. I want to compliment the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority for the professional approach they are taking in trying to deal with a situation not of their making.

This is not just any museum. It is an iconic and historic masterpiece. It houses the history of a bygone era and the life and work of two of Mississippi Mills finest citizens Dr. Tait Mackenzie, and Dr. James Naismith; the former renowned nationally and internationally as a sculptor, the latter the creator of the game of basketball. Visitors from all parts of Canada and some from other countries have benefited from touring the Museum. We local citizens take great delight in educating Americans about who in fact invented basketball. It was Dr. James Naismith of Mississippi Mills, a native son.

In many instances, a change in government at both the federal and provincial levels results in a review of existing expenditures and programs. Fair enough. Some of these reviews, history demonstrates, are well executed and result in tangible savings for taxpayers. Some, however, are chaotic processes that cut a wide swath through programs and services that are important to taxpayers and result in not only reduced levels but reduced quality of services. On occasion, a succeeding government simply reverses these reductions.

As a taxpayer, I have no problem with the Ontario government reviewing provincial programs or services. Using the criteria that a program must fit within the frame of existing or enabling legislation is surgical enough and can be explained rationally to the public. That said it may also result in ignoring or setting aside local circumstances or priorities. I understand the need for the MVCA to reconcile its programming to Bill 108. and hence review their strategic direction. They are doing what they must.

From my own experience as a government executive who oversaw both drafting and enforcement of legislation and regulation, I submit that well-drafted legislation will always allow for exceptions/exemptions depending upon the circumstances. This piece of legislation should be no different. There is always the option open to the government of political override as well.

I appeal to the Ontario government to recognize the uniqueness of the Mill of Kintail Museum and area. It is a showpiece. Please do not negatively impact the heritage of our Municipality. Keep the Museum and its exhibits intact and in place.

The Mill of Kintail including the Museum runs on a shoestring. For that matter, the MVCA itself does not run on a rich budget either. Both the MVCA and the Museum should be maintained at current funding levels. Use your Cabinet authority to make an exception in this case.

As I understand it the MVCA is inviting the public to express their views on future steps. If you care about the Mill of Kintail Conservation area and specifically its Museum, and Tait Mackenzie and Naismith exhibits, you should consider expressing your views. My suggestions to Queens Park follow:

  1. Come visit this historic and beautiful site and museum before you confirm final funding decisions.
  2. Allow flexibility under the Bill 108 Legislation for the uniqueness of the Naismith/ Tait Mackenzie exhibits.
  3. Grandfather the Tait Mackenzie/ Naismith exhibits. They should remain in the Kintail Museum.
  4. Reach the conclusion that provincial funding levels for the MVCA and Kintail Museum should not be reduced.

Thank you, staff and volunteers, for the tremendous job you do to conserve this jewel in our neck of the woods. I sincerely hope you can continue business as usual going forward.

To our federal MP, our provincial MPP and our Mayor–some issues have a way of getting traction. Please work with Queens Park for a solution that will preserve our Museum as is.

With respect to all,

Jim Moore