Trent University seeks $100,000 from city for amphitheater project


Trent University has asked the city council for $100,000 for the construction of its planned $1.4 million Jalynn Bennett Amphitheater in the courtyard of its downtown campus, but city staff recommend offering 50 $000 instead.

In a virtual committee meeting on Monday, city councilors will review Trent’s application and staff’s proposed plan.

The amphitheater would be both community and academic at Catharine Parr Traill College, which is located in the London and Dublin streets area near Reid and McDonnel streets.

The project is to build an open-air theater that can accommodate 80 to 100 people; it would have stage lighting and a sound system and would be suitable for either university lectures or community performances.

Trent has 12 community partners interested in using the space, the city staff report says – Fourth Line Theater in Millbrook, dance company Public Energy and the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra among them.

The cost to build the amphitheater is expected to be just over $1.4 million, the report says, and the university has $910,000 to date, including:

  • A federal grant of $560,000 (from the Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Heritage of the Canadian government).
  • A private donation of $150,000 (from the estate of the late Jalynn Bennett University Chair).

  • Other donations and internal transfers of $200,000.

But the project is ineligible for provincial government grants, the staff report says, and the shortfall is nearly $500,000.

In a letter to city staff from Michael Eamon, Principal of Traill College, a request for $100,000 is made to build “this truly unique and important space for the entire Peterborough community.”

But city staff recommend offering half the amount requested — and that the money be pre-committed now in the 2023 city budget, as the city lacks reserve funds for arts projects.

Staff recommends offering $50,000 rather than $100,000 for several reasons:

Grant Policy

The city provides a maximum of $1 million per year to various community building projects, and for 2023 it has already committed to a total of $894,500 in these types of grants.

The pledge of $100,000 for the amphitheater project for next year leaves little room for other demands, the staff report notes.

Other steps

The city already has two outdoor stages – one at Del Crary Park and another at Nicholls Oval – both of which need maintenance. The staff report indicates that in 2024, the two stages combined will require $96,000 in upgrades.

Councilors heard at a meeting earlier this year that Trent hopes to have the amphitheater built in 2023.


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