Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Of mandates and money at City council

“We are here to operate a City and the City is in financial difficulty. We need to look at roads, water and sewer and ensure that they are operating. That is our mandate and that needs to be first and foremost…I don’t think, at this time, our community can afford it,” added Bedard. A quote from a report by the Northern View’s Shaun Thomas, outlining some of the debate of council and Councillor Bedard's thoughts of Monday night regarding the proposed rebate on rent for the All Native Basketball Tournament.

The Northern View has provided us with our first look at the enthusiastic debate over a request from the All Native Basketball Tournament for a reduction in rent on the Civic Centre for this year’s tournament. A decision which offered conditional approval by the end of council's conclave.

The discussion in council Monday regarding funding, brings back some memories of a past council deliberation of a year ago, which found the city exploring other forms of assistance and support for a local organization.

It was just a little over a year ago that Councillor Bedard was speaking passionately in council, seeking a flow through arrangement with the city for the organization that she is Executive Director of, the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society.

Outlining for council how a partnership with the City would access funding for that organization, the city according to the briefing notes added to the agenda of council on January 12th 2009 (pages 27 and 28) was to provide administrative support towards that end.

That request required two separate introductions in council, the first on the 12th of January 2009, which was withdrawn pending further comment from staff and then the re-introduction of the motion on the 26th of January 2009, where the resolution was listed as carried in the minutes of that council meeting.

The two situations and requests for assistance of course are not the same, one is for what in effect is a cash donation to be put towards rent on an event that provides a fair amount of revenue to local businesses, and attracts hundreds if not thousands of visitors to the city on an annual basis.

As for that request of January of 2009, beyond the raised eyebrows of more than a few in town over the perceived alliance between the city and a local employment service, we imagine that like today, financially things weren’t much better a year ago than they are at the moment.

We’re not sure what that administrative support for the co sponsorship evolved to, or how much in the end that project cost the city if anything, nor do we know if the city recouped any of its investment of support services towards that project, or if that assistance translated into the successful accessing of funds for Hecate Strait.

But aside from any financial updates on that partnership, the question that comes to mind, considering the tone of debate on the ANBT request in council chambers on Monday is, did the Hecate Strait partnership request of last year meet the same parameters of this declared mandate of fiscal sensibilities as described in council on Monday night?

If council is going to declare standards for mandates, it might be helpful to explain what does and doesn’t qualify for city support, in whatever form that support may come and what that support should or should not consist of.

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