Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An issue that could come back to bite city council

It's an interesting study as to what issues may bring out the most passionate of commentary from taxpayers and voters.

Prince Rupert City Council facing some tough economic times has had to begin stripping away at its financial contributions to civic groups, decisions which have been well documented over the last few weeks as they prepare to get a better handle on their financial picture for 2010.

The Prince Rupert Library already has had to make the tough decision to close its doors to the public on Mondays, hoping that with a reduction in hours they can find a way to line up their own finances in a workable scenario.

Other local groups have had their expectations dashed for this year, with a reduced amount provided for the services they provide, from the work of Civic Pride, through to the Special Events Society and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and many, many more, all were advised at the January 25th session of council of a 25 per cent reduction in their grants for this year.

One group however is in a dire situation with the pending reduction in funding, as the city's SPCA shelter has very real fears of having to close owing to its current financial situation.

Having requested funding at a level of 70,000 dollars and finding that council will only approve a level of 23,000 dollars, the wide gap in funding has many fearing the worst for the long time fixture in town .

The Shelter has survived for years on the benefits provided from an estate payout, however that pool of available funding comes to an end this year, with the SPCA now projecting a loss in the range of 110,000 dollars.

With the possibility of closure on the horizon the city is beginning the process of exploring other ways of handling the kenneling needs of those current and future visitors to the SPCA services.

For locals with a strong attraction for the well being and care of animals this very well may be their final straw as far as their impressions of the Mayor and Council and how they are handling local issues.

Over the last few weeks as details have come out as to what kind of reductions are to take place, local residents have expressed concerns over the handling of the decisions by the city. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction comes from a recent move by the City to act as a guarantor for a 40,000 dollar loan with the Credit Union taken out by the Golf course. While there is no actual money being moved, it could be perceived by residents of council favoring one local group over another that may cause a bit of a backlash.

While its a rather small sample for consideration, the local message board and discussion site hackingthemainframe has come alive with expressions of concern for the animals at risk and the shelters future, combined with growing anger at the council and Mayor for any number of local issues.

From its pages comes a number of thoughts as to how the city could handle the financial problems, mainly involving different facets of the city's economic base from CityWest to the Airport Ferry and Watson Island.

That social media outlet in town is of course, not representative of the majority opinion in the city, but it does provide a forum for those with similar interests to exchange ideas and organize their thoughts and perhaps their actions.

As Inspector Clouseau found out the hard way, the SPCA issue very well may not be their collective dog, but it could indeed have a pretty good bite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points. Though, I feel that the SPCA won't really be a deciding factor, it won't put the Mayor over the top, either.