Wollaston council wrestles with grants 0
Township of Wollaston councillors wrestled with the question of who to support with grants from the list of requests made to council over the past few months. Their recently approved budget allows for the distribution of $7,000 in medical transfers and other grants.
Discussion revolved around two different points of view.
Council generally seemed to have a more regional approach to granting money with a view to collaborating with other municipalities for a joint benefit.
Reeve Dan McCaw however was clear he wanted to take a harder look at money leaving the township, and that it should be spent at home.
McCaw and council were united in supporting the "Clearly Better" hospital campaign. "That's what people want, and it is needed," said McCaw.
However, Hospice North Hastings was a different matter.
"I only know two people from here that ever went there," said McCaw
"Well, that is a pretty private matter," said Councilor Maryann Post. "We won't often know that."
On the matter of the Algonquin Arts Council (AAC) McCaw was frank.
"I don't know anything about art," he said. "I read their big letter, and then I said what the 'H' did I just read?"
Post explained that AAC is much more than art, but includes theatre and music. "They operate the Playhouse, and are involved with youth projects," she said.
"I was down at the art galley in town, and someone bought some thing that looked to me like it was just dots and lines," said McCaw. "And paid $45. I couldn't understand it."
A longer discussion concerned support for public transit, and in particular the TROUT bus service.
McCaw told council that there are two other services, Bancroft Community Transit and the busses at the Manor. He wondered why they were not considered public transit as well.
Other questions were raised about the cost of fares, and how full the busses are on trips to Coe Hill.
Township clerk Jennifer Cohen reminded council that the Ontario Ministry of Transportation is committed to supporting municipal public transit projects such as the TROUT with stable funding, but requires a financial commitment from the municipalities.
Deputy Reeve Graham Blair summed up the discussion. "We need to continue to support the TROUT," he said.
The most intense debate of the morning was reserved for how to support the North Hastings Economic Development Council (NHEDC) and the Bancroft Chamber of Commerce.
McCaw was pretty clear about his position.
"The NHEDC is a good project if you are into art," he said.
"The problem we have, there are three or four outfits doing the same jobs. No-one sits down and says lets make an arrow," he said.
Blair took a different view of the matter.
"This is surely worth contributing to," he said. "NHEDC provides professional expertise to business. It is not a duplication."
"This is the same old thing," continued McCaw. I'd suggest that we don't support it. It's a dying beast. They have no support except in their own little group. I sat on that board, and I got up and walked out."
Blair continued, "If you are running a business and if your business is successful, then so is our community," said Blair. "We need to think regionally, and Bancroft ..."
McCaw interrupted by pounding his fist on the desk and shouting, "Bancroft is nothing to us! We'll just go back and forth like a bunch of yo-yo's. Graham, you could argue all day just about the weather. The discussion is finished!"
Blair told McCaw that he was not finished, and asked him to stop shouting. Following some intense conversation, the discussion continued and turned to the local revitalization committee told work.
McCaw expressed his concern for the cost associated with local revitalization.
"You already made a large cut in funding for revitalization when you terminated a staff member who was paid to oversee it, and chaired the revitalization committee," said Blair. "We no longer have that staff, and this is a large cut that you may not be conscious of."
Blair was referring to the firing without cause of the township CAO FitzSimons earlier in the year.
In the end, council passed a resolution approving the following grants:
TROUT - $1,500, AAC - $200, NHEDC - $200, Clearly Better Hospital campaign - $2,000, Hospice North Hastings - $1,000, and Bancroft Chamber of Commerce - $500.
There are still funds left over in the grant allotment of the 2012 budget for later dispersal.