Councillor questions group”s business plan
Safe Communities Midland has left questions unanswered, says McKay
By Travis Mealing Midland Mirror July 29 1010
MIDLAND – No one around the Midland council table has spoken out against public safety, but a community group dedicated to that very goal is having difficulty securing municipal funding.
Safe Communities Midland has been through ups and downs in its quest to land $10,000 to hire a part-time project co-ordinator. After being rebuffed by council in April, the committee got a second chance in May, when its pitch seemed to fall on more receptive ears.
Despite a municipal hiring freeze and a general desire to keep a lid on spending, council directed the committee to come up with a business plan detailing how the money would be spent.
On Monday, that document landed with a thud before councillors.
“This is not a business plan,” Coun. Gord McKay scoffed. “There’s no indication of what it will take to operate this program.”
He added a list of people and groups that support the initiative is not enough to justify spending public funds.
“This is merely a statement that safe communities are important, that these people are behind it, so (council had) better get behind it,” he said. “I’d very much like to support this, but the questions of two months ago have not been answered.”
Despite McKay’s misgivings, the request will be kept under consideration for the 2011 budget, responsibility for which will fall to councillors voted into office this October.
“It’s no skin off anyone’s nose tonight,” said Coun. Bob Jeffery, noting the requested funds are for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Coun. Judy Contin, who sits on one of the Safe Communities Midland sub-committees, said the request for $30,000 over three years is very clear, regardless of McKay’s view.
“We need to buy into it,” she said. “In my opinion, it’s a worthwhile investment.”
Midland was chosen two years ago as one of five Ontario communities for a pilot project – conducted by the Ministry of Health Promotion and Safe Communities Canada – that focuses on reducing injury rates. A little more than a year ago, the board of directors of Safe Communities Canada voted unanimously to designate Midland as Canada’s 57th “safe community.”
The group has established an executive, a promotions and communications committee, and sub-committees to address the top three injury priorities: motor-vehicle collisions, falls and intentional self-harm.
McKay observed five municipal staff members are already helping the organization, a commitment in manpower that he likened to a $20,000 or $25,000 contribution.
The group applied for funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, but was unsuccessful.
If council grants Safe Communities Midland’s request, the group has committed to raise matching funds to complete its budget.
Deputy Mayor Ruth Hackney noted the business plan tabled Monday is silent on what would be expected of the town if that fundraising effort failed.
And Coun. Zena Pendlebury said bankrolling what is essentially a municipal committee would set an undesirable precedent.
“Six months from now, there’s nothing to say the heritage committee won’t come to us requesting money,” she said.