EDITORIAL: Spend money to make money

It's not always the best practices to dismiss every monetary request that comes to Parksville city council

OK, Al Greir, we get it.

The Parksville city councillor’s seemingly consistent stance on all non-budgeted expenditure requests — a big, fat “no” — may be laudable to many electors. And having an elected official care deeply about every dime spent in taxpayers’ money is valuable to the safety of the public purse, of that there’s no doubt.

However, there are unforeseen circumstances, requests that cannot be anticipated, that require flexibility from politicians.

Two requests for support came in front of city council this week. They may not be the best examples to cite to make the case for thinking on one’s feet, but they are the most recent.

A group planning to bring the Island’s first tribute festival to Parksville — think Elvis impersonators — was before council Monday night, looking for a break on the $1,000 it owes for the rental of the conference centre for a three-day event in May.

The group has the backing of, and pledge to contribute proceeds to, the Canadian Cancer Society. It could be the start of something big for the region. Anyone who has been to the wildly successful Elvis Festival in Penticton will know what kind of revenue comes into a city that has an event like this.

No, says Greir.

Next up was a motion by Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson for the city to kick in $5,000 to be a player at the Island Film Commission table. She didn’t use these words, but in essence she was asking the city to stop being a freeloader — the film commission does present Parksville locations to potential filmmakers, and the industry is banck on the upswing in B.C.

These productions bring thousands of dollars and jobs to communities where they shoot.

No, says Greir (and it should be noted every councillor except Powell-Davidson said the same thing).

Unbudgeted items, especially when the 2014 budget has yet to be fully passed, need serious scrutiny and many should not be supported.

But one would hope a city councillor, even one who wants to paint himself as a fiscal champion, also understands another fiscal reality: you have to spend money to make money.

— Editorial by John Harding

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