Northeast Town council sharpens its donations budget pencil

NORTHEAST TOWN—With $5,000 left in its 2019 donations budget balance, the Northeast Town deliberated on five of its donation requests received so far with a sharpened pencil.

At a meeting held last month, Jane Drolet, acting on behalf of Skate Canada Manitoulin, approached council about the new Super Series event being held at the recreation centre and requesting that council consider a donation of all the associated ice rental fees for the three-day event, which took place last month. Ms. Drolet explained to council that the Super Series event replaces the popular Island Skate as a sanctioned event but that much of monies raised must flow back to Skate Canada. Ms. Drolet estimated the costs of rental to come in at $5,000.

CAO Dave Williamson explained that he and manager of community services Reid Taylor looked at the cost and explained to council that the number runs closer to $3,800 and includes ice time, the hall and kitchen.

“I think it’s a great program, a great idea, but I’m bothered by the fact that the event won’t be profitable like Island Skate used to be as profits have to be returned to Skate Canada,” said Councillor Michael Erskine. “Realistically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to deplete our donations budget to support a national organization.”

Councillor Bill Koehler said he would not be supporting it either and suggested Skate Canada Manitoulin contact the McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm community grants team for a donation.

Councillors Dawn Orr and Laurie Cook also said they could not support the donation request.

Councillor Erskine made a motion to donate the Northeast Town’s standard amount, $200, which was seconded by Councillor Koehler. Councillor Jim Ferguson and Barb Baker abstained from voting due to conflicts of interest. The motion carried.

Other donation requests from the Sheguiandah Fall Fair, Little Current Fish and Game Club and Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates also each received $200. Councillor Baker declared a conflict. The motion carried.

Lastly, council reviewed the request from the Little Current Yacht Club to donate in-kind dockage fees up to $1,400 for the culminating event of North Channel Race Week in July.

Councillor Orr made a motion to donate the dockage fees up to $1,400 but could not get a seconder. Councillor Erskine made a motion to donate $200.

Councillor Jim Ferguson said he believed that the kids’ sailing program, for which the July event raises funds, was important to the community. Councillor Koehler said he also believes it to be.

Councillor Laurie Cook said she thought the “optics are bad” with the event. “It looks like the yacht club is having a party on the taxpayers’ dime,” she added.

Mayor Al MacNevin explained that council has supported this event for many years, as do all the other North Channel ports that participate, all waiving their dockage fees.

Councillor Erskine changed his motion to donate dockage up to $1,400.

Councillor Bruce Wood said he would not support the motion because council failed to support Skate Canada Manitoulin’s request.

“There is a fundamental difference between Skate Canada and the youth sailing program,” Councillor Erskine responded.

In a recorded vote, Councillors Erskine, Orr, Koehler, Boyd, Ferguson and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour of the donation of dockage. Councillors Cook and Wood voted against. Councillor Baker did not vote due to a declaration of conflict. The motion was carried.