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Parksville council declines Ballenas dry grad financial support request

Motion to approve one-time funding of $500 defeated at April 15 meeting
Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville. (PQB News file photo)

Parksville council has declined to contribute $500 to the Ballenas Secondary School dry grad event.

Council heard a presentation by the co-chair of the grad parents committee that requested financial assistance for the 2024 prom and dry grad.

“The cost of everything has gone up immensely now,” said Andrea Button during her presentation to council’s April 15 meeting.

Button added she did not realize there are applicable grants until it was too late.

Mayor Doug O’Brien said the request was coming last-minute and council had already completed its financial plan.

“It’s difficult for us to go scraping from the bucket because the bucket’s already got the lid on it and it’s closed,” he said.

Button explained there are ongoing fundraising efforts, such as bottle drives and a planned golf tournament in May. Grad fees were increased from $200 to $300, she added.

Adding to the situation is the fact that the event will be held on Canada Day long weekend, Button said, which limited the number of available venues.

The rental fees for three days at the BGC Parksville Child and Family Centre will cost $4,200, according to Button, who added the school does not have a non-profit number that could allow for a cheaper rate.

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Later in the meeting Coun. Mary Beil presented a motion to provide $500 to support the prom with funds coming from the council contingency.

“I wish we could do more,” Beil said. “Given the late time of the application and a number of factors, and how far along we are in our budgeting, as well as the challenge with accepting all the different requests that do come to us.”

Coun. Adam Fras pointed out that such a request would normally be directed to the city’s grant-in-aid committee. He added council could consider taking the funds from a future grant-in-aid allocation.

“That being said though, it’s not fair to other people who haven’t had a chance to apply because we have a process to go through,” he said. “Also hearing that the school board isn’t contributing to it, I would say this lands in their responsibility.”

O’Brien said the situation is an appropriate use of the contingency fund, and it could be allocated without setting a precedent.

“It’s a contingency for unforeseen circumstances,” he said. “The organizer of this event fell on her own sword to say that the blame clearly lies with her lack of understanding or appreciation of process. With that in mind all of us are far from perfect and I appreciate that, but this puts the individual in a very difficult position.”

The contingency fund currently sits at $1,700 for the fiscal year, according the city’s chief administrative officer.

Council also discussed adding Ballenas graduation as a line item in future years’ budgets.

Beil’s motion to provide the $500 was defeated.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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