Parksville city councillor Al Greir really needs to leave the city’s grants-in-aid program alone — for no other reason than he, himself, has taken advantage of them for a few causes near and dear to his own heart.
Yes, we get that Greir is trying to be the councillor that looks after taxpayer dollars and tries to eliminate waste. No beef there.
However, the city’s grant-in-aid program, and certainly some of its extra grants in the form of operating funds to organizations like the local visitor centre, is not the place where waste resides.
In fact, it can be argued (and it has been argued) that a little goes a heck of a long way. The small grants that the city hands out — a few hundred bucks here and there for a total of $5,000 in each year — is simply a gesture of goodwill to the groups that receive it. It’s the city’s way of saying, “thanks, we support your project or event because it actually benefits the community far more than the value of the grant.”
Even when the city gives more — like the $2,500 and additional in-kind donations to the annual sandcastle competition weekend — the return can be tremendous. The sandcastle event alone draws tens of thousands of people to Parksville. They stay here, eat here and even give a little back to volunteer groups when they pay a trifle to see the sand sculptures. It’s unlikely taxpayers feel that money from the city is poorly spent.
In all likelihood, taxpayers aren’t too concerned about spending 0.05 per cent of the city’s annual budget (approx. $10 million) on a few good things, run by well-meaning people. Even the $47,000 in spending Greir wants cut represents only around a half-a-per cent of the city’s budget.
It comes down to the non-essentials, if Greir is, indeed, looking to cut. Things like flowers, street cleaning and other beautification measures won’t kill us if they’re gone. But it would make Parksville a dull place to live.
By that example, it behooves Greir and council to think carefully about where they find their savings.
— editorial by Steven Heywood