Northeast Town council scrutinizes donations budget

NORTHEAST TOWN—The Northeast Town donations budget was under scrutiny during budget deliberations late last month.

Council had received four donation requests so far this year.

The first up for deliberations was a donation of $1,500 toward the veterinary bills of cats spayed and neutered in Little Current through Judy Fisher’s Rainbow Rescue organization. It was explained that the veterinary service bills the municipality its one-third share of each cat spayed/neutered until the funds run out. This past year the municipal contribution helped 11 cats from repopulating.

Councillor Orr, at a past meeting, suggested that because it’s a service to the community, similar to dog catching, that it become a line item in the budget. Councillor Barb Baker agreed. Councillors Bruce Wood and Bill Koehler thought it should remain a yearly donation.

Councillor Ferguson asked which ward had produced the 11 cats in 2018. CAO Dave Williamson explained that they came from Ward 2 (Little Current). Councillor Ferguson suggested that they then make it a Ward 2 line item in the budget, meaning that the funds for this would come directly from the Ward 2 residents.

Councillor Michael Erskine said there is a tendency to dump unwanted cats on farmers. “I don’t think you can necessarily say it’s just a Ward 2 problem.”

Councillor Koehler said he believed that if Ms. Fisher had a complaint in any of the other wards that she would come to the ward where there was a cat issue.

“When do we stop?” Councillor Ferguson asked. “Eleven cats, but the twelfth cat doesn’t get done and there’s the redundancy.”

Councillor Cook explained that Ms. Fisher gets donations from all over, not just from the municipality, and receives matching funds from the vet.

“Six hundred dollars is a stretch for kids’ education, but $1,500 for cats? It’s ridiculous,” Mr. Ferguson said, referencing an earlier move by council to not increase the Manitoulin Student Aid Fund municipal bursaries.

Councillor Cook made a motion that the donation to Ms. Fisher become a line item in the budget, coming from the common levy. Councillor Orr seconded the motion.

In a recorded vote, councillors Erskine, Orr, Cook and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour while councillors Koehler, Al Boyd, Ferguson and Wood voted against the motion. The motion was tied and therefore defeated.

Councillor Ferguson made a new motion that the $1,500 donation become a line item under Ward 2. Councillors Erskine, Orr, Cook, Ferguson, Wood and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour of the motion while councillors Koehler and Boyd voted against. The motion was carried.

“Ms. Fisher should be advised that she doesn’t have to be worried about cats in those other wards,” Councillor Koehler said. “If people have a problem, call the councillor.”

Next up for discussion was Manitoulin Streams.

Councillors heard a deputation from Manitoulin Streams program manager Seija Deschenes at the previous meeting. Ms. Deschenes outlined the work that her organization does for stream rehabilitation on Manitoulin and the impact that ultimately has on our tourism, including sport fishing, economy.

She also told council that having municipal support is important when it comes to leveraging funding dollars from the provincial and federal governments.

“I think Manitoulin Streams does fantastic work,” Councillor Ferguson said. “If they can levy more with our small donation, let’s do it.”

Councillor Boyd said he was “100 percent behind it.”

“I’m in support of it too,” Councillor Wood added. “They support local contractors; it’s a win for everybody.”

“I was somewhat reluctant to support it, but after the presentation, I’m on board,” Councillor Koehler shared.

Manitoulin Streams will stay a line item in the budget at $2,500.

Council also made a motion to donate $200 to the Little Current Lions Club toward its Winterfest activities.

A donation request from the Little Current Yacht Club, for use of the pavilion and 900 feet of dockage on July 26, was not addressed.