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2005 11 08
The ROM Tower: R.I.P.
imageimageToday's Globe and Mail says that the ROM's CEO, William Thorsell, scrapped plans to build a 46 storey condo tower south of the main museum building yesterday. For anyone who attended last Tuesday's public meeting on the project, that decision is no surprise. The Globe quotes Thorsell: "I knew there would be controversy but I didn't think it would be this degree of opposition." "It's too deep and broad to keep this project alive."

In last Wednesdays' posting on the subject I mentioned that it was unlikely that the condo would go forward given the public reaction. As an observer at the meeting it struck me that the people who came to speak in opposition to the tower are the same people who support and benefit from a healthy ROM. They are the city's culture class and Thorsell had to listen to them.

That's the paradox. If the city wants to compete for the world's best and brightest it must have an array of social and cultural amenities. Thorsell's stewardship of the ROM to date has focused on building a museum on par with any in the world. We suspect that with that goal almost in sight the condo scheme seemed too good a funding opportunity to pass up.

What will he do now? The city is suffering from donor fatigue according to Thorsell. They've already done their share. An economic analysis of the project must indicate the net benefits of the ROM expansion to the city and province. Thorsell has backed down on one attempt to eliminate the shortfall. It is time for government to stand behind its "Creative City" rhetoric and invest more in culture and the arts of Toronto.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 11/08 at 03:38 PM

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